March 28, 2019 – A group of education and civil rights organizations this week submitted an amicus brief to the United States Supreme Court in support of New York ‘s challenge to the inclusion of a citizenship question into the 2020 Census. The KIPP Foundation, Advocates for Children of New York, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and UnidosUS warn a citizenship question would “exacerbate the undercount that already plagues immigrant communities of color.”
New York is leading a broad coalition of states, cities and mayors suing the Department of Commerce.
“The citizenship question in the 2020 census will have a chilling effect on immigrant communities across the country,” said KIPP Foundation CEO Richard Barth. “At a time when students from low income communities still face significant barriers to college and career success, it’s critically important they receive the funding and resources they need. Ensuring an accurate Census is one of the most fundamental steps we take as a nation towards educational equity.”
"Including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census will destroy the possibility of a full count, and must be understood against the backdrop of an already disquieting undercount of people of color and immigrants,” said Ryan P. Haygood, President & CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “Newark, New Jersey – the Institute’s home and the state’s most populous municipality – ranks first and third in the nation, respectively, for its percentages of Black and Hispanic people living in ‘hard-to-count’ areas. Adding the citizenship question to the Census will exacerbate an already problematic undercount, with dire consequences for already vulnerable communities for the next ten years.
“As an organization that has been fighting for low-income students in the New York City public schools for almost 50 years, we have seen over and over again the harm to students when educational and community resources are inadequate, and including the citizenship question on the census will exacerbate this problem. We were pleased to sign onto this amicus brief, which brings the important perspective of low-income students, including immigrant students, into consideration,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director of Advocates for Children.
The brief highlights the threat that the question poses to first-generation children, writing that “while an undercount will have consequences for a broad cross-section of our society, the impact on children and students, particularly in immigrant communities of color, should be of paramount concern.” An accurate Census is critical to allocating appropriate education and community resource funding for students in underrepresented communities.