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California’s $115 Billion Question: Is This Person a Citizen?

  • State suing U.S. over census query says it has most to lose
  • Lawsuit could yield a ‘cleaner’ win than New York State case
Immigrants From Over 50 Countries Become U.S. Citizens At The New York Public Library

Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Trump administration’s decision to ask people about their citizenship on the 2020 census could cost a number of U.S. states and cities money, but perhaps none have as much to lose as California.
The state, which sued the U.S. last year to block the question, got about $115 billion of $883 billion in fiscal 2016 federal spending guided by census data, according to Andrew Reamer, a professor at George Washington University who worked with the latest data available.

And it’s set to lose more than any other state, California argues, if Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wins the battle to add the query -- “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” -- to the decennial questionnaire for the first time in 70 years. That’s because California is home to the greatest number of immigrants and Hispanics in the U.S., many of whom, fearing the government’s intent, won’t answer the question and won’t be counted, the state claims.