A slate of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates hammered President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE Friday for his administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the census.
Speaking at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Presidential Campaign Forum hosted by Telemundo, the candidates panned the question as an effort to undercount immigrant communities and possibly reduce their resources and representation in Congress.
The census will help determine the number of congressional seats and electoral votes each state gets, making it critical to how votes will be counted in the decade after it is taken.
The prospect of a citizenship question’s addition is making its way through the courts.
“Well, I think for a start, even before we worry about what I do after I’m president, we should talk about what might be able to be done in the next several months. And that is, the Congress has the ability to pass language which says, ‘We will not fund something unless something is eliminated.’ And I’ve done that over the years,” Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill’s 12:30 Report: Milley apologizes for church photo-op Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness MORE (I-Vt.) said.
“And I think it was a damn good idea to say that we’re not gonna fund money for the census unless that absolutely bigoted language is taken out of the census. So I think we might wanna jump in before.”
The candidates suggested an array of actions, from scrapping the question in their administrations to taking action now in Congress to allowing the Supreme Court to reach a verdict.
But all agreed that there were partisan interests at play in the question.
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“I would immediately, as president, in my first 100 days get rid of that citizenship question, if it is still on there. That’s the number one. Number two, we will have to have a recount, if the Supreme Court persists in including this question on there,” Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Democrats demand Republican leaders examine election challenges after Georgia voting chaos Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-Minn.) said.
“Let’s let the Supreme Court make a decision. But do understand this: If the Supreme Court decides to go forward and let that question be added and it’s — and we know it will suppress the response, I’ve been thinking hard about this. And I will have a plan to deal with it. But this is really important,” Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Joint Chiefs chairman says he regrets participating in Trump photo-op | GOP senators back Joint Chiefs chairman who voiced regret over Trump photo-op | Senate panel approves 0B defense policy bill Trump on collision course with Congress over bases with Confederate names MORE (D-Mass.) said.
“If we don’t properly count the people living in our community, then the people living in our community will be shortchanged in a thousand ways that rely on the census. And so, this is vitally important for communities like ours. Plus, we know from evidence in some of these court proceedings that this manipulation of the census has been motivated racially and politically. It is wrong. And we must resist that,” South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegScaled-back Pride Month poses challenges for fundraising, outreach Biden hopes to pick VP by Aug. 1 It’s as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE said.
He added, “There are certainly measures, on a forward-looking basis, that the next president can undertake, beginning with enshrining, in law, the principle that you cannot manipulate the census for political advantage and that you would never introduce a question that is likely to distort or diminish the accuracy of the census.”
“We’ll recount it if we have to. We’ll count it until we get it right. Every person will be counted in America if I’m president,” Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellNASCAR bans display of Confederate flag from events and properties Gloves come off as Democrats fight for House seat in California Grenell says intelligence community working to declassify Flynn-Kislyak transcripts MORE (D-Calif.) vowed. “The new American majority is going to be a Latino majority. The president knows this and he’s trying to hold us back. But we’re not powerless. So in the Congress right now, we’re not gonna fund discriminatory census practices.”
“My hope is that we’re gonna get a decision soon from the Supreme Court that is positive and that this question will not go on the census. If it does, then — and I’m elected president, I will do everything that I can to make sure that we do an accurate count,” former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said.
He continued, “This is important because it’s estimated that up to 4 million people could be undercounted if this question goes on the census. And a lot of those are gonna be Latinos. And you know what the game is. The game, even if this never happens, is to scare people into not participating. I will remedy that if I’m president.”
“Well, I think that this entire process of trying to put on, you know, questions like the citizenship question, which is clearly designed to get certain parts of our population not to come forward and be counted in the census, is corrupt and illegal,” former Democratic Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperGun control group rolls out first round of Senate endorsements The Hill’s Campaign Report: Republicans go on attack over calls to ‘defund the police’ Hickenlooper ethics questions open him up to attack MORE (Colo.) said. “If it goes forward, I would use every congressional method to make sure that the count is reverified.”
“In my administration, there will be no citizenship question on the census. We will make sure that, if there has been an undercount in 2020, that we get back out there and count every single American whose voice and whose story needs to be part of the national conversation,” former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) said. “It’s intended to suppress the vote of Latinos, of people of color, those whose country of national origin was some other place, who came here to contribute to our greatness. Let’s make sure that they can by counting every single one of them.”
Advocacy groups challenging the citizenship question in court said last week that documents found in the files of a Republican strategist show he was in communication with a top official involved with the census, saying the talks are evidence that there are partisan motivations behind the possible census change.
Strategist Thomas Hofeller was revealed last month to have allegedly conducted a study in 2015 that found that asking about citizenship would help Republicans and white communities while hurting Democrats and Latino communities.
The Justice Department has denied in court that Hofeller played a role in getting a citizenship question on the 2020 census.