WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today will introduce legislation to prohibit the United States Census Bureau from including any citizenship information in the data it provides to states for legislative redistricting. Title 13 of the United States Code mandates that the Census Bureau provide states with the small-area, block-level data necessary for legislative redistricting and population totals. This legislation will safeguard redistricting from partisan interference.
“The Trump Administration has made every effort to alter the Census process and use it as a surgical tool to undercount and hurt certain communities for political gain,” said Senator Booker. “This administration has changed its story on the citizen question at least ten times in the last four months and made it clear that there is no end to the lengths it will go to erode our institutions. The President has now admitted that he intends to make citizenship information a part of the redistricting process, which experts warn will benefit one political party. This egregious and blatant attempt to tamper with our democratic process would completely overhaul the rules of who gets to participate in a representative democracy in America and it can’t go unchecked.”
Today’s bill takes on increased urgency in the wake of President Trump’s admission last week that the citizenship question was needed for redistricting purposes. Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Friday, President Trump said the citizenship question was needed “for many reasons…number one, you need it for Congress – you need it for Congress for districting.”
“To be clear, redistricting based on citizenship data will push communities of color — which are already dramatically undercounted — farther into the shadows,” said Senator Booker.
Full text of the bill can be found here.
Booker has been a strong and vocal leader opposing the Trump Administration’s attempts to add a citizenship question to the census. He is the co-author of the Every Person Counts Act of 2018, which would prevent a citizenship question from being added to the census, and, last year, he led the effort against the appointment of Thomas Brunell to serve as Deputy Director of the Census Bureau. Shortly after outlining his opposition to Brunell’s appointment in a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, the appointment was withdrawn.
Also, last year Booker joined a group of 17 senators in demanding more answers and additional documents from Secretary Ross about what prompted the citizenship question and what factors played into its inclusion.
More recently, he has pressed the Administration on the confidentiality of census data. In June, after the Census Bureau concluded the citizenship question will have an eight percent larger effect on the response rate than previously thought, Booker led the New Jersey delegation in a letter to the Commerce Secretary seeking weekly updates on how the lower response rate will affect the Garden State.