Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) lashed out against the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the census during a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday.
A citizenship question on the census could intimidate non-citizen residents of the United States and cause immigrant communities to be undercounted in the 2020 census. Because the number of representatives in Congress is determined by population, rather than number of citizens, a question about citizenship could deny political representation to immigrant communities and shift power to whiter, more Republican areas.
Some powerful Republicans, such as Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach, have pushed for a citizenship question because it could help swing Congressional power to the GOP.
At Wednesday’s hearing, the House Oversight Committee moved to hold Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas related to the Trump administration’s decisions about the citizenship question.
“I want to know why this question was magically added after we have seen that a political operative knew and detailed an intent to intimidate racial and immigrant communities for a partisan purpose, saying this will hurt Democrats and help Republicans,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I want to know about racism and the very disturbing history that we’re seeing here.”
Ocasio-Cortez noted that changes to the census typically take five years of testing to be approved, but that the citizenship question has been in the works for only two years.
The US Constitution mandates that the census count “the whole number of persons in each State,” which was reaffirmed in the 2016 Supreme Court case Evenwel v. Abbott.
“This is about the rule of law,” Ocasio-Cortez said, “this is about the respect for our institutions, and this is about the power of all of us as a body, as United States Congress, and the integrity of the government of the United States.”
Watch her testimony below.
.@RepAOC @AOC on 2020 Census and holding Secretary Ross in contempt of Congress: “Any change to the census, any addition of a question, usually takes 5 years…I want to know is why this question was added, why 2 years have been shaved off that 5-year process.” pic.twitter.com/8OkK1kYXNQ
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 12, 2019