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Chiu, Breed call on San Franciscans to oppose census citizenship question

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Mayor London Breed and Assemblymember David Chiu joined advocates in raising concerns about a proposed U.S. Census question on citizenship Thursday. (Joshua Sabatini/S.F. Examiner)

Mayor London Breed joined Assemblymember David Chiu in Chinatown Thursday to encourage the public to oppose a question about citizenship status the Trump administration has included in the 2020 census, warning it would lead to a population undercount and a loss of federal funding for cities like San Francisco.

Breed and Chiu joined community advocates at Chinese for Affirmative Action to denounce the citizenship question just days before the U.S. Department of Commerce closes the public comment period on the 2020 Census on Aug. 7. Officials fear the question will deter immigrants from participating in the census, leaving them uncounted. And they want it removed.

Breed said that “our immigrant communities are under attack by this president.” The question is intended to “scare our immigrant communities” and would “weaponize the census,” Breed said.

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Chiu urged the public to send the message to the Trump administration that the citizenship question “is not only anti-immigrant, it is anti-democratic.”

Billions of dollars are at stake. An undercount means that diverse communities like San Francisco and California “will receive far less funding for critical things like health care, education, housing and infrastructure,” Chiu said.

The question, which was announced in March by the Trump administration, asks: Is this person a citizen of the United States? And offers boxes to check, including if the person was born in the United States or is not a citizen.

Wilbur Ross, secretary of the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, said in a March memo that the citizenship question was added to improve enforcement of voting rights under the Voting Rights Act. The question has not been asked in the census since 1950.

But the intent for asking for citizenship information is being called into question in a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman in April to block it. The lawsuit is ongoing. Other jurisdiction have also filed similar lawsuits.

“We need the public’s help in fighting back against an attempt to undermine our democracy,” Chiu said. “The Trump administration has decided to use the census, which has traditionally been a non-partisan function of government, as a tool for political gain with dire consequences for California and the city of San Francisco.”

Chiu directed people to submit their comments online at http://bit.do/calcounts.

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