President Donald Trump’s racism is serious serious enough for a judge.
Federal Judge Jesse Furman on Thursday ruled that a lawsuit can move forward challenging the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census. Furman said there was evidence that was a discriminatory move.
The plaintiffs 18 states, the District of Columbia and a host of cities and activist groups “plausibly allege that [Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’] decision to reinstate the citizenship question was motivated at least in part by discriminatory animus and will result in a discriminatory effect,” Furman wrote.
He pointed to Trump’s racist rhetoric targeting a variety of people.
His particular jarring comments included calling people from Haiti, El Salvador and African nations “these people from shithole countries”; saying that certain immigrants “turn out to be horrendous They’re not giving us their best people, folks”; and saying “[w]e have people coming into this country, or trying to come in You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals “
Overall, Trump’s remarks “could be construed to reveal a general animus toward immigrants of color.”
Furman acknowledged that Trump’s comments did not specifically refer to the census. “But the law is clear that the mere ‘use of racial slurs, epithets, or other racially charged language can be evidence that official action was motivated by unlawful discriminatory purposes,” Furman wrote.
He also alluded to the case in Hawaii against Trump’s Muslim ban, in which the court “considered ‘extrinsic evidence’ namely, President Trump’s own statements.” In this case, Trump’s racism against Muslims cost him in court.
Further, Furman wrote about evidence that Trump himself had a hand in the question. He pointed to an email from Trump’s reelection campaign that showed he was “personally involved in the decision” and in fact “officially mandated” the question.
The census has not asked about a person’s citizenship since 1950, the opinion notes.
The question would leave immigrants documented and not fearful of filling out the questionnaire at all, which would also leave for skewed results, Furman agreed. This would alter the way federal funds are distributed particularly in states with high immigrant populations.
The ruling did not say that Ross does not have broad authority over the census, though. However, plaintiffs still found the ruling to be a victory.
“Today’s decision is a big win for New Yorkers and everyone across the country who cares about a fair and accurate Census,” New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood said in a statement.