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Rebuke of Trump’s Census Plan Gives Immigration Activists Hope

Trump’s insidious attempt to use the census to isolate immigrants has faced a setback in federal court.

Activists look on during a press conference to announce a multi-state lawsuit to block the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census form, at the headquarters of District Council 37, New York City's largest public employee union, April 3, 2018, in New York City.

Concrete, steel or transparent barriers — President Trump doesn’t care how the wall is built, as long as he can continue to build walls on the US-Mexico border and between Americans. Now his attempt to build a wall around the immigrant community that already resides within the country is backfiring as a New York federal judge shot down his proposed citizenship question for the 2020 census.

By seeking to deter undocumented immigrants from participating, the Trump administration is rigging the census in a blatant attempt to gerrymander districts to support his racist, anti-woman, anti-LGBTQ vision of the United States. The citizenship question — which is still to be considered by the Supreme Court in February — is also a signal to immigrants that they are being watched, tracked and hunted. Borrowing from war tactics used throughout the centuries, the Trump administration’s proposed citizenship question is an insidious attempt to encircle and isolate immigrants, walling them off from the support of their neighbors and larger community.

The census is just one of many battlefronts. The Trump administration is continuing its march on communities of color through a barrage of racist policies and tactics designed to inspire fear and treat Black and Latinx communities as criminals. Indeed, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s adoption of a zero tolerance approach through Operation Streamline provides the administration cover to criminally prosecute migrants en mass — trying up to 70 people at one time.

Migrant children, young people and families from Central and South America are doing what any of us would do in life-threatening circumstances. They’re traveling thousands of miles to find themselves denied, torn apart from each other and abused. Indeed, despite preaching to us about “law and order,” the Trump administration is in fact breaking the law by denying entry to asylum seekers. Now, President Trump is holding the country hostage and has threatened to declare a state of emergency in order to circumvent the legal process through which our federal budget is approved.

Through these policies and Trump’s constant attacks on migrants, the administration has pushed Latinx and immigrant communities into a position of fear and panic. For those already wary of strangers knocking on their doors, census workers would be seen as an outright threat rather than as civil servants.

Trump is not upholding the law; he is breaking it. In order to get his way, he is manufacturing a crisis that is impacting millions of people. By urging the US public to turn its back on migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and the Latinx community at large, President Trump is asking the nation to once again betray our stated fundamental values.

Thankfully the New York federal judge’s decision has given us hope that at least, in this one attempt to attack immigrants, the Trump administration may not be successful.

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