Things That Matter

Ahead Of Supreme Court Decision, Census Bureau Quietly Seeks Citizenship Data

The Census Bureau is quietly seeking information on the legal status of millions of immigrants in the United States. According to the AP, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would share personal data about noncitizens, including their immigration status, to the Census Bureau. The pending agreement between both agencies started since as earliest as this January. While the move is unprecedented, it is legal for the DHS to share the data if “it fits with a certain set of defined exceptions.” The news comes as the Supreme Court decides next month whether the Trump administration can ask people if they are citizens on the 2020 Census.

The pending agreement would give the bureau vital information about millions of immigrants in the country including social security numbers and addresses.

The DHS data that would be given to the Census Bureau would include names, addresses, birth dates and places, Social Security numbers and registration numbers. The AP reports that the data the bureau would receive would be more accurate than the information collected by the census every 10 years.

The proposed move raises some questions as to what the Trump administration will do with the data. It’s also raised concerns among privacy and immigration activists that argue it will be misused and would increase fears among noncitizens and legal immigrants. Some say the data can be used to build a database for legal cases and the deportation of immigrants.

Jessica Collins, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Services, told the AP that while no agreement is finalized, the information would not be used for law enforcement purposes.

“The information is protected and safeguarded under applicable laws and will not be used for adjudicative or law enforcement purposes.” Collins said.

This has all been reported in the same week a second federal judge called the proposed census citizenship question “illegal”.

In a ruling this past week, federal judge Richard Seeborg issued a court order blocking the Trump administration’s plans to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Seeborg says that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s effort to add a citizenship question “threatens the very foundation of our democratic system.” He also ruled that it was unconstitutional because it prevents the government from doing it’s job to count every person living in the U.S.

Secretary Ross made the choice last year to add the citizenship question to the census, claiming the Justice Department requested the question to improve enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act. Critics say this is just another move to heighten voter suppression.

The proposed census question would result in a significant undercount of non-citizens especially Latinos and other communities of colors due to fears that the information would be used against them. These undercounts would also affect the accuracy of new population counts. These numbers play a role in determining how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes, including billions of dollars in federal funding, each state receives after the 2020 census.

Seeborg is the second federal judge to stike down the proposed census question after an earlier ruling in New York by U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman earlier this year.

In April, the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments to determine if the 2020 Census can include a citizenship question.

The proposed census question has become a contentious issue that would mostly affect blue states where Latinos live. Also, by having the Census Bureau go around the courts to receive information from the DHS, it only adds to this controversial issue.

While the census count happens just once every 10 years, it’s an important procedure that will certainly affect federal funding and serve as the basis for huge amounts of research. While federal law strictly prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing information, many fear having a question concerning legal status won’t help with building trust.

“It’s understandable that it’s alarming,” Terri Ann Lowenthal, a consultant on census issues, told the New York Times. “Given the anti-immigration policies of the administration, people who are fearful for their security and their status would see this as another possible effort to harm them.”

The Supreme Court hearing in April will allow Secretary Ross and the Justice Department to show their case that the question is needed to better enforce voting-rights laws. The court should make it’s final decision weeks after oral arguments begin.

READ: Miami Film Festival Cancels Screening of Immigration Doc After ICE Detained The Movie’s Main Character

Supreme Court Blocks Trump Administration From Eliminating DACA

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Supreme Court Blocks Trump Administration From Eliminating DACA

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

For three years, people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status faced an uncertain future. The Trump administration was involved in legal battles after abruptly eliminating the program. For the third time this week, the Supreme Court has handed down a major loss for the Trump administration as they protected DACA from Trump’s attack.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration cannot end DACA.

The 5-4 decision is the third major legal loss for the Trump administration this week. SCOTUS ruled earlier this week that LGBTQ+ cannot be fired for their sexual orientation or gender identity. The court also refused to take up a case challenging California’s sanctuary state law letting the law stand.

The decision to temporarily protect DACA was a split decision with all of the conservative justices (Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Samuel A. Alito Jr.) voting in favor of the Trump administration. Justice John Robert joined the liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan saving the program from the Trump administration, for now.

In the ruling, written by Justice John Roberts, the court cites that the acting secretary of state violated the Administrative Procedures Act when ending the program. Basically, the announcement was lacking substance and did not address key parts of the policy. This made the announcement void of an argument supporting the dismantling of the program.

The ruling is only temporary relief for the hundreds of thousands of young people on DACA.

While the program has been spared, it is not completely saved. The decision from the Supreme Court today focuses on the way DACA was eliminated, not the actual elimination. This means that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now has time to reevaluate its case against DACA to try again.

“The Court still does not resolve the question of DACA’s rescission,” Alito wrote in his dissent. “Instead, it tells the Department of Homeland Security to go back and try again.”

The conservative justices, while dissenting, did release statements that agreed with parts of the decision to block the Trump administration from eliminating DACA. The Trump administration first announced that they were ending DACA in 2017 with a press conference on the border led by Jeff Sessions.

Justice Sotomayor made her own headlines after calling the case a racist attack.

“I would not so readily dismiss the allegation that an executive decision disproportionately harms the same racial group that the President branded as less desirable mere months earlier,” Justice Sotomayor wrote in her concurrence of the decision.

Organizers and activists are giving credit to the DACA community for this victory.

The DACA community has led the charge to protect their status in the U.S. The movement has largely been done thanks to the work of DACA recipients fighting for their right to be here. For many, it is the only country they know after arriving to the U.S. without proper documentation when they were young children.

The president has tweeted his clear displeasure on the Supreme Court that he tried to stack in his favor by appointing two justices.

Both justice Kavanaugh and Gorsuch were Trump’s appointees. After three losses from the Supreme Court, President Trump followed his usual playbook and accused the Supreme Court of not liking him.

Now, it is time for Congress to act.

With DACA recipients temporarily spared sudden deportation, Congress must act and pass legislation protecting Dreamers from being deported. The Dream Act is one piece of legislation that offers DACA recipients a pathway to citizenship, something most Americans agree with.

READ: ICE Is Threatening To Reopen Deportation Proceedings Against All DACA Recipients Regardless Of DACA Status

Supreme Court Refuses Case Challenging California’s Sanctuary State Status

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Supreme Court Refuses Case Challenging California’s Sanctuary State Status

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The Supreme Court of the United States has refused to hear a challenge to California’s sanctuary state law. At the heart of the case is the state’s law limiting the cooperation of state law enforcement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to California’s sanctuary state law in a 7-2 vote.

Conservative justice Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. both wanted to hear the case brought by the Trump administration. The other justices, John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Stephen Breyer voted against the Trump administration refusing to hear the case.

The court, as per usual custom, did not offer a reason as to why they will not hear the case. This means that the previous ruling the case will stand.

The previous court ruling, supporting the law, will now stand in California.

A unanimous panel of judges in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in favor of the law. According to the lower court’s ruling, the federal government has no power in commandeering a state’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The ruling states that California’s law can stand because of the Tenth Amendment.

This is a significant blow to the Trump administration that has made a toughness on immigration central to their mission. President Donald Trump, who lost in the Supreme Court twice today, started his 2016 campaign railing against Mexican immigrants calling them rapists and criminals.

The decision is making some people question the humanity of Thomas and Alito.

Justices Thomas and Alito are notorious for being very conservative justices. The two justices usually vote along party lines siding with the Conservative population. Their rulings are often targeted at limiting rights to certain groups. Justice Thomas makes news when he asks questions from the bench because of his consistent silence.

The ruling has sent critics of the president into a laugh-filled celebration.

It wasn’t long ago that news agencies reported that Trump went to the bunker during the Black Lives Matter protests in Washington. Trump claims that he went to the bunker to inspect it, not to hide from protesters. The news sent protesters and BLM supports to call out the president unable to handle a protest against him.

Some people think it has been a very bad day for the U.S. president.

A Supreme Court decision is precedent. Now, the California law limiting cooperation between state law enforcement and ICE can be replicated in other states. It is also another example of a state’s rights being protected.

READ: Supreme Court Hearing Arguments For DACA, Leaning Towards Elimination