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Arizona Democrats celebrate Supreme Court decision on census question

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

PHOENIX — Arizona Democrats celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to put a hold on the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva praised the court’s ruling.

“Despite Republican attempts to undermine our democracy & rig the Census against minority communities, #SCOTUS decided to uphold the integrity of both,” he said in a tweet.

“I will continue fighting to ensure that every person is counted in the #2020Census.”

State Republicans weren’t quick to publicly respond to the ruling, but Rep. David Schweikert told KTAR News 92.3 FM that the decision surprised him “a little bit.”

“It’s going to create a timing situation, where it looks like that citizenship question will not be on the form,” he said.

“For most of the censuses, the last couple hundred years, there’s either been a direct question or sort of close to a question that actually used to walk through status. So in some ways it’s sort of odd this became so politicized.”

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego called the Supreme Court’s decision “welcome news.”

“An accurate & complete #Census2020 is crucial to ensure that our communities are counted and receive the representation and resources we are entitled to,” he said in a tweet

U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton also said the decision is important to how citizens are counted in the census.

“Today’s decision affirms what we have known all along: The administration’s plan to add a citizenship question was ill-conceived, and officials have lacked candor about their intentions,” he said in a statement.

“Adding a citizenship question would result in a serious undercount in Arizona — likely the largest of any state — and cost our taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds.”

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said the census “is not just about funding,” but is also about giving all residents the opportunity to be represented.

“Phoenix joined with many other cities and states to fight against the inclusion of a citizenship question on the census not only because of its detrimental impact on funding, but because it would alienate an entire section of the population,” she said in a series of tweets.

“While I am happy with today’s Supreme Court decision, I know this is not the last time we’ll debate this issue.”

Phoenix City Council Laura Pastor of District 4 said in a statement that the ruling is “wholly appropriate and allows the city of Phoenix to focus on what is most important: building trust with all our communities and getting an accurate count of everyone living in our city.”

Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski of District 7 called the decision a victory but said there is more work to be done.

“We know the addition of this question would have negatively impacted a full count in our region and unnecessarily alienated a segment of our population,” he said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with our regional partners and our community in ensuring we get a complete count.”

The court said the Trump administration’s explanation for wanting to add the question was “more of a distraction” than an explanation. The administration had cited the need to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

It’s unclear whether the administration would have time to provide a fuller account. Census forms are supposed to be printed beginning next week.

Chief Justice John Roberts had the court’s opinion, with the four liberals joining him in the relevant part of the outcome.

A lower court found the administration violated federal law in the way it tried to add a question broadly asking about citizenship for the first time since 1950.

The Census Bureau’s own experts have predicted that millions of Hispanics and immigrants would go uncounted if the census asked everyone if he or she is an American citizen.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Peter Samore and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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