A growing group of state lawmakers, lawyers, and immigrant rights groups are putting pressure on Governor Abbott to sue to block the Trump Administration from asking about a person's 'citizenship status' in the 2020 Census, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Steve Murdock, who was the Director of the Census Bureau under President George W. Bush and is now a professor at Rice University, tells News Radio 1200 WOAI this isn't a battle over ideology, there are big bucks involved.
"The fact that the other largest states, like California, are moving aggressively on this is an indication of how serious it can be,"
Murdock said.He says Texas receives some $40 billion a year in federal funding which is based completely on population size. If the estimated 1.5 million illegal immigrants now in Texas decline to fill out the Census form because they are afraid it will lead to deportation, Murdock says that could hit some critical programs hard.
"Many national, regional, and local organizations allocate based on the Census count," Murdock said. "If that Census count is an undercount, that area that is being undercounted will have fewer resources than they will need."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has made it clear that he supports asking people their citizenship status and has no intention of suing to block the question. Gov. Abbott has been in India since the issue arose and has not commented.
Supporters of the question say it will give a more complete view of who lives in the U.S. and will provide data for proper enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Opponents say if people don't fill out the Census form because of the citizenship question, federal taxes paid by Texas residients will to to other states because they will appear to have a larger population, and the Texas population will appear to be smaller.
The citizenship question was last asked in 1950. It was asked as part of the Census 'long form' in 2000, but that form only went to fraction of recipients, and they were not required to answer it as part of the basic Census count.