Advocates and states that fought back against the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question “won decisively,” former Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday.
“We kicked their asses,” Holder said at a fundraiser for Greater Hartford Legal Aid, according to The Connecticut Mirror.
Holder, a former Obama administration official who is now chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, led his political action committee in suing the Department of Commerce over the citizenship question on behalf of residents of Maryland and Arizona. After nonprofit groups and states brought forward a successful lawsuit that challenged the question, which prevailed in court in late June, President Donald Trump dropped his efforts.
The Trump administration claimed a citizenship question was necessary to obtain data to enforce the Voting Rights Act. But a court blocked the administration efforts, with a federal New York State judge calling that argument “pretextual.” Similarly, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said it “seems to have been contrived.”
Holder previously accused the Trump administration of “lying about its intentions,” noting that documents unearthed from the late political consultant and gerrymandering architect, Thomas B. Hofeller, allegedly revealed Hofeller believed a citizenship question would benefit Republicans and whites.
Experts anticipated that with a citizenship question on the census form, there would be a significant decrease in responses from noncitizens and immigrants in mixed-status households. An undercount—predicted by the Census Bureau’s own research—would be detrimental to states with high immigrant populations because allocation of federal funding and congressional seats both depend on the Census count.
Now, activists worry that the controversy surrounding the question may have created damage on its own—and they’re gearing up to mitigate the harm. Holder called on the administration earlier this month to bolster efforts towards achieving a complete count, particularly in hard-to-count communities.
“[T]he chaos and fear created in the immigrant community by the Administration’s effort to add the question and its inhumane immigration policies have already threatened the accuracy of the count,” Holder said in a statement after the administration dropped its efforts to add the question to the 2020 census in mid-July.
During his speech, Holder called for action to address social injustice.
“The social progress that we have made as a nation, long sought and long fought for, is at risk,” Holder said, according to The Connecticut Mirror. “But just as this is an hour of great need, it is also a moment of significant opportunity.