Statement on U.S. Supreme Court Citizenship Question
June 27, 2019
Community Resource Exchange Responds to U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Citizenship Question in the 2020 Census
(New York, NY)—Community Resource Exchange (CRE) President and CEO Katie Leonberger issued the following statement after a divided U.S. Supreme Court today announced an opinion about whether a citizenship question can be included in the 2020 Census:
We are extremely heartened by the Supreme Court’s decision to minimally delay, if not disallow a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form. But this debate is far from over. We’re already at serious risk of a 2020 undercount due to the late start in funding outreach efforts, and apprehension around online submissions. Inclusion of a citizenship question would have instilled further fear in people and lead to a woeful undercount in geographies across the United States, particularly in those with diverse immigrant populations such as New York City.
A severe undercount in the 2020 Census would dramatically reduce the amount of federal funding New York receives for a range of critical programs delivered by nonprofits – jeopardizing the very existence of these organizations, causing them to cut staff and end programs, and crippling their ability to connect with underserved communities. $20 billion a year is on the line for New York City alone.
Nonprofits are dedicated to the city’s most critical issues, like homelessness, hunger, health, and criminal justice reform. A Community Resource Exchange survey found that nonprofits fear they will be forced to reassess how to effectively meet needs if they have to scale back, particularly because they already operate on budgets stretched thin due to years of government underfunding.
Further, their long-term presence in many neighborhoods serves as a valuable, trusted conduit to achieving an accurate count, as illustrated by a Quinnipiac poll noting that New Yorkers would be more likely to participate when contacted by a local nonprofit.
While the $60 million recently allocated in the New York City and State budgets for Census outreach and education is a start, it is insufficient to cover the costs required to do appropriate outreach, particularly if a citizenship question is included. Many groups would need more support to ensure outreach is successful over the next year.
We recognize that today’s Supreme Court decision is not the end of this battle, and that the court’s opinion is based on the government’s flawed justification to include the question, giving the administration an opportunity to recast its reasoning. It’s too soon to tell whether that justification will be done in time – and then receive approval from a lower court.
To this end, we urge people to continue registering their disapproval of the inclusion of a citizenship question in the Census, stressing that it will yield an undercount in 2020 or in future Census counts. Achieving an accurate count will ensure that New Yorkers everywhere will be better off and our City — and our State — will be a stronger place in which to work, live, and thrive.