Emgage welcomes ruling against the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census


January 22, 2018

Washington, DC – Emgage applauds U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman’s ruling against the Trump Administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. According to the ruling, the administration must halt plans to include a question asking participants to divulge their citizenship status. By including a question on this, the Trump Administration was attempting to weaponize the census and suppress responses which could severely undercount minority communities. An accurate decennial Census is not only constitutionally mandated but is vital to the allocation of over $675 billion in federal funds and determining the distribution of Congressional seats.

The administration has defended their desire for a citizenship question, maintaining that the question was added in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act provisions that protect minorities from discrimination.  According to the lawsuits’ plaintiffs, the administration’s rationale for the question has been misleading. In fact, the Census Bureau has warned the administration leadership about the disastrous results: depressed response rates, increased costs, and inaccurate data that the nation would have to grapple with for the next 10 years. This injudicious question could have affected minority communities that are already at risk of being undercounted.The census is not only designed to allocate federal and state funds to various districts in the US, but also to determine seats in Congress and the need for health and wellness programs, all of which is based on accurate population data. This citizenship question is merely another attempt to push the administration’s anti-immigration policies and isolate minority communities. Judge Furman’s ruling shows  that despite the administration’s malicious attempts to suppress minority participation in our democracy, the courts will question the legality of their attempts.

Emgage and its state chapter, Emgage Texas, has been actively working to educate communities of color about the negative impact of a citizenship question. Emgage Texas is also part of Houston in Action, a broad group of stakeholders, representing more than 40 organizations, multiple sectors, and diverse constituencies, focused on increasing coordination and collaboration to improve civic engagement in Houston and surrounding areas. We are working to bring diverse people and organizations together to solve challenges in reaching hard-to-count communities and the grassroots work done through ethnic community organizations allows a better Census count. Getting the 2020 Census right is important for all American communities, particularly for those most likely to be undercounted.

Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of Emgage, said: “We applaud this halt to the administrations draconian attempt to yet again demonize immigrants in the United States. Our Emgage Texas chapter has been working closely with this issue, as part of a coalition that signed onto the court case and to ensure that Houston and the surrounding areas get a full, accurate count of all residents.”


For more information, please contact Wa’el Alzayat at walzayat@emgageusa.org.

Emgage educates and empowers Muslim Americans through educational events, voter initiatives, and leadership development for the purpose of creating a community of knowledgeable, motivated, and impactful citizens. Emgage seeks to transform the Muslim American electorate into an active and impactful community.