“This has been an extraordinarily difficult census because of the public health situation and because of existing statements from the Trump administration that makes this a scary environment for immigrant communities,” said Marks, whose organization does outreach to increase participation in the Census. “And this will just make some of those challenges even greater.”
California is already facing the loss of one congressional seat, largely because the state’s population growth has slowed down.
Historically, Black, brown and immigrant communities have not been fully counted in the Census, leading to a smaller share of federal funds for schools, hospitals, roads and other critical needs in their local communities.
California would lose more than $1,000 per year for every person who is not counted in the decennial census, said state Sen. Tom Umberg, D-Santa Ana.
“We in California need to make sure that we redouble our efforts to get the message out to all Californians, irrespective of whatever their immigration status is, that they have to be counted,” Umberg said, who co-chairs a Senate committee on the 2020 Census. “And it's not just for their own benefit. It's for all our benefit.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his office will be on the lookout for federal actions that would merit a court challenge, such as failing to seek census forms from immigrant households.
But Becerra says the president's memorandum, though inflammatory, isn't reason enough for a legal challenge yet.
“Simply because Donald Trump says things that are crazy or extreme doesn't mean we can go to court,” Becerra said, who was part of a coalition of attorneys general that sued to block the Trump administration from including the citizenship question in the 2020 Census.
“The moment they take action and that action would amount to a violation of the law, we now have standing ... to sue the Trump administration,” Becerra said.