On Monday, writing for The Washington Post, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) and former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams condemned President Donald Trump’s latest push to rewrite the rules of the census for partisan and racial reasons.
“To tell the story of America, we must see who lives within her borders,” wrote Bass and Abrams. “The census is the constitutionally protected tool wielded every 10 years to take stock, assess the accuracy of our national narrative, and ensure a fair and equitable distribution of political power and money to the places where people live. The mandatory decennial count is laid out in the founding documents of our nation. Over time, we have bettered its process from its original horrific approach. For nearly a century, for every five black Americans, only three were included in the count — the despicable Three-Fifths Compromise built on the assumption that each Black person was subhuman, three-fifths of one. After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment eliminated this practice and, now, the Constitution guarantees an enumeration of ‘whole’ persons.”
Now, they warned, Trump wants to unilaterally change the rules so that undocumented immigrants are counted as visitors and excluded — reducing both funding and political representation to states with high immigrant populations.
“Undercounted communities will get less than their real need,” they wrote. “This will be particularly felt in communities of color which have been disproportionately ravaged by covid-19 … [and] underfund schools, hospitals and disaster recovery for years.” It would also ensure districts “will become whiter and more Republican, despite population trends that run the exact opposite direction. The electoral college will be further weighted against the will of the people. District maps from the state house to the school board will be inaccurate, silencing entire communities from being seen and heard.”
“The census has never been perfect; but decade after decade, we have strived to meet our Constitution’s charge,” they concluded. “It falls to the rest of us to protect the ideals of democracy and to rebuke the president’s politics of greed and fear … To do anything less would be committing malfeasance against democracy itself.”
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