Polis, Colorado Democrats laud court decision on US census
DENVER (AP) — Colorado Democrats, including Gov. Jared Polis, celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday to place on hold Trump administration plans to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, saying it will help ensure a population count that delivers the fast-growing state its fair share of federal funding over the next decade.
Polis, lawmakers and immigrant advocates lauded the split court decision at a state Capitol news conference. They’d long warned that adding a citizenship question would deter thousands of Colorado residents, including households with noncitizens and Hispanics, from participating.
Polis had previously described the administration’s plan as a political tool. Immigrant advocates said the plan, coupled with recent warnings of federal law enforcement sweeps targeting residents with deportation orders, intimidated immigrant communities.
“Look: People can fight here all day about who should be here and who shouldn’t. But the census is about data,” Polis said.
The Democrat-led Legislature this year allocated $6 million to an effort to encourage census participation among hard-to-reach communities, including minorities, the elderly, children and the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes.
Proponents argue it also will benefit rural areas that lack internet service, noting the census will largely be conducted online.
Most Republicans opposed the effort, but GOP Sen. Kevin Priola of Adams County co-sponsored the legislation.
Federal funds account for a third of Colorado’s roughly $30 billion annual state budget. Arguing for the outreach program, Democratic Reps. Yadira Caraveo and Kerry Tipper warned that a 1% undercount could cost the state $630 million over the next decade, and a 1.5% undercount could jeopardize expectations for an 8th Congressional District.
Colorado’s population has risen from 5 million to 5.7 million since 2010, according to the American Community Survey, which is conducted annually by the Census Bureau.
Polis lamented a separate Supreme Court ruling Thursday that federal courts aren’t the place to dispute the partisan drawing of electoral districts, or gerrymandering. He did note that Colorado voters last year approved a pair of constitutional amendments designed to eliminate partisan congressional and state legislative mapmaking.
“We hope that other states follow the lead of Colorado in trying to remove politics and partisanship” from redistricting, Polis said.