WASHINGTON DC, United States, CMC – The Washington-based Institute for Caribbean Studies (ICS) has welcomed a ruling by the United States Supreme Court that the Trump administration presented insufficient reason for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The ruling blocks the question being asked, at least, for the time being.

Would have caused fear and undercounting

ICS said that the ruling has reinforced that separation of census count from matters of immigration status. “More importantly, the Supreme Court’s ruling provides an opportunity to ensure that the census reflects our country in full,” it said, noting the addition of a citizenship question would have injected fear into vulnerable and traditionally undercounted communities, “making them even more vulnerable and undercounted.

“We at ICS hope that this ruling is the end of it. All Caribbean American community organizations are asked to get on board the census initiative to help ensure that every person in every community is counted as our democracy and the law demand.”

Supports outreach and staffing

ICS, whose founder and president is Jamaican-born Dr. Claire A. Nelson, said it will continue to advocate for legislation and funding to guarantee the 2020 census is “fair and accurate, through support for outreach and staffing to secure maximum participation and inclusion.

“The census is a constitutional responsibility, and we must continue to be engaged as citizens and residents,” Dr. Nelson said.

“In doing so, we must work hard to ensure that the census does not become a political football and that we can continue to have faith in the future of the American dream and the census as a critical part of the American democratic process,” she added.

In rejecting the Trump administration’s reason for adding a question on citizenship to the census, the US Supreme Court left in doubt whether the question would still appear on census forms that are dispatched to every US household next year.

Appears contrived

Writing for the majority and joining the court’s liberal wing, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the explanation given by the Trump administration for adding the question “appears to have been contrived.

“The decision to reinstate a citizenship question cannot be adequately explained in terms of DOJ’s (the Department of Justice’) request for improved citizenship data to better enforce the VRA (Voting Rights Act),” he said.

“Several points, considered together, reveal a significant mismatch between the decision (US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross) made and the rationale he provided.”

Justice Roberts said that Ross, whose department overlooks the census, sought to include a citizenship question on the census “about a week into his tenure, but it contains no hint that he was considering VRA enforcement in connection with that project”.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, whose state was in the vanguard of the lawsuit before the US Supreme Court, hailed Thursday’s ruling.

“The census will remain a tool for delivering on our government’s promise of fairness and equity,” she said in a statement, adding that states, such as New York, “will not be short-changed out of critical resources or political representation.”

“Our democracy withstood this challenge,” noted the first Black woman to become New York Attorney General.

“But make no mistake, many threats continue to lie ahead from the Trump administration, and we will not stop fighting. Now, more than ever, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, and everyday people need us to stand firm in our fight for justice,” James said.

President Trump described the court’s ruling as “ridiculous”.