US court blocks census question for Caribbean immigrants

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

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NEW YORK, Jamaica (CMC) – Caribbean American New York City Council Member Jumaane D Williams has welcomed a ruling by a US federal judge blocking the Trump administration from including a question on citizenship status for Caribbean and other immigrants in the 2020 Census.

“Time and again, over the last two years, we've seen the courts acting as a check against the immorality and inhumanity of this administration in a role they've often played throughout our history,” said Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, who represents the overwhelmingly Caribbean 45th Council District in Brooklyn.

“I celebrate this ruling with the millions of immigrants throughout our city and our country who feared they would be targeted or silenced if this question were allowed to tarnish and bias the census,” he added.

Justice Jesse M. Furman of the United States District Court in Manhattan ruled on Tuesday that Wilbur L Ross Jr, the US Commerce Department Secretary, broke “a veritable smorgasbord” of US federal rules when he ordered the citizenship question added to the census nearly a year ago.

The judge described as “egregious” Ross's cherry-picking of facts to corroborate his stance and said that the Commerce Department Secretary ignored or skewed opposing evidence and concealed deliberations from Census Bureau experts.

“I am a first generation American, the son of immigrants. I represent a community of immigrants, in a city, a state and nation of immigrants. These communities need to stand up and be heard in this census to ensure that their voices and their numbers are represented by our government,” said Williams, a candidate for New York City Public Advocate.

“This administration's primary goal is and has always been to create an 'other,' and to exploit that division and bigotry. A victory was struck against that goal today, and we will continue to keep up the fight.”

Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) Voting Rights Project, said the ruling was “a forceful rebuke of the Trump administration's attempt to weaponize the census for an attack on immigrant communities.”

In a joint statement, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Cecilia Clarke, president of Brooklyn Community Foundation, welcomed the court's decision.

“We are thrilled to congratulate the advocacy work of the New York Immigration Coalition, as well as so many other immigrant rights organizations that have raised their voices against this injustice,” they said.

Adams and Clarke also said they celebrated Judge Furman's decision as “a milestone in the fight for a fair and accurate Census count.

The 2020 census count will determine whether a state gains or loses seats in the US House of Representatives when redistricting starts a year later.

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