WASHINGTON, DC — Bipartisan mayors from around the country are calling on Secretary Wilbur Ross to reject an untested question on citizenship status that threatens to undermine the very core of the census’s constitutional mandate. The call comes following the Department of Commerce’s announcement to add a question of citizenship status to the in the upcoming decennial census, which cities rely on for critical resources.

In February, USCM sent an open letter of Census related concerns including this issue signed by 161 Republican and Democratic mayors to Secretary Ross urging him to meet his mandate of a full, fair and accurate 2020 Census, and at USCM’s latest leadership meeting in March 2018, the nation’s mayors passed a resolution to support the successful execution of the decennial census.

“By caving to the Department of Justice’s request to include a citizenship question on the 2020 United States Census, Secretary Ross has politicized and compromised a process mayors rely on to deliver essential services to their cities. Inaccurate reporting, which this question is sure to produce, will mean less funding for transit, housing, education, and other vital services for cities large and small. As mayors from across the country have said repeatedly, the addition of the citizenship question undoubtedly will threaten the Census Bureau’s ability to accurately and fully reflect the diverse fabric of America and meet the constitutional mandate of counting all persons residing in the United States,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) President. “On behalf of mayors of both parties, I urge Secretary Ross to remove this question and ensure the next census produces a fair, accurate representation of our communities.”

“Mayors of both parties have long contested that previous censuses have undercounted cities. The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) stands united in opposing the addition of the citizenship status question to the 2020 Census and we are actively exploring legal avenues to challenge the Commerce Department’s decision,” said Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

U.S. Conference of Mayors Vice President and Columbia, SC Mayor Steve Benjamin said, “The Commerce Department’s decision to incorporate the untested citizenship question to the 2020 Census questionnaire is the latest blow at ensuring a full, fair, and accurate count. Our nation deserves better. The American people deserve to have a Census Bureau that lives up to its constitutional mandate to count all people living in the United States to effectively ensure that hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being used effectively and efficiently. I join my fellow mayors in a bipartisan call from across America in calling on Secretary Ross to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census, and I urge the Administration to provide the appropriate resources to allow the Commerce Department to effectively conduct the Census.”

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh, Mayor of Baltimore and Chair of the Census Task Force of the US Conference of Mayors said, “This is an ill-advised and counterproductive effort by Secretary Ross that will only serve to undermine our aim to ensure that every person is counted in our communities.  As he well knows, the Census results are essential to redistricting efforts that effect Federal, state and local elected representation, as well as access to Federal funding support for infrastructure, schools, hospitals and public services. This count will be used to determine policy and investment for the next 10 years, as well as the state allocation of seats in the US House of Representatives. With so much at stake, we must do all we can to ensure a fair and accurate count of all city residents across our nation. I join with my colleagues of the Conference of Mayors in urging Members of Congress to defeat this obstructive tactic by the Trump Administration.”

“Everyone is counted in a full, fair, and accurate Census,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “The Constitution and our communities demand better than a mean-spirited attempt to intimidate immigrants and suppress participation in a count that means so much to our democracy.”

“The Trump administration’s attempt to politicize the Census is par for the course for a president who never misses an opportunity to degrade democracy, sow seeds of prejudice, and disempower our country’s urban centers,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “President Trump is trying to force America’s immigrants into the shadows, and Chicago will not stand for his latest effort to undermine our residents’ rights.”

“New York City is joining Attorney General Schneiderman’s lawsuit to stop President Trump from this unprecedented move to politicize the census. A fair and accurate 2020 count is constitutionally mandated to ensure political power and resources remain with the people – where they belong. President Trump’s decision puts our amazing city of immigrants in jeopardy and threatens federal funding for infrastructure, health care and public safety in New York,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said, “Federal attempts to scale back outreach funding and pursue measures like the census citizenship question threaten accurate census counts and will prevent cities like San Antonio from getting much needed funding and resources. This only underscores the need for cities to come together to ensure the most accurate count possible.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said, “The purpose of the Census is to get a complete and accurate count of who is in your city.  By asking the citizenship question, the federal government is making the count more difficult and inhibiting the necessary information to ensure that cities have adequate resources.  As mayor of America’s most diverse city, where one in every four residents is foreign-born, I will work to make sure everyone is counted, as the Constitution clearly demands.”

“An accurate and complete census count is essential for funding public safety and infrastructure in Mesa.  As one of the fastest growing big cities in America, we need access to the vital state and federal funds that are tied to our census number,” Mesa, AZ Mayor John Giles said.  “Our goal should be to facilitate an accurate census, as called for by the Constitution.  We should not provoke uncertainty and promote fear in our diverse communities.”

USCM Past President and Burnsville, MN Mayor Elizabeth Kautz said, “I am alarmed by the Commerce Secretary’s decision to include a citizenship question on the decennial census. I joined with a bipartisan group of 161 Mayors from across our nation to send a letter to the Secretary last month urging him not to include this question. We did so because this question will discourage participation in the 2020 Census, particularly among households that include immigrants who are here legally, but are not yet citizens and are fearful of how the federal government will use this information. My understanding is since 1790, the census has counted all residents–citizen and non-citizens alike.  We will continue to insist on a full, fair and accurate count of everyone residing in our communities.”