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Ducey Supports Trump Plan To Add Citizenship Question To 2020 Census

Gov. Doug Ducey is siding with the Trump administration in its bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census despite concerns by some that it will cause an undercount that could cost the state millions and possibly a congressional seat.

"There's a number of different questions the federal government chooses to ask,'' Ducey said. "I think they get a handle of who's here, who's a citizen and who's not is a fair question.''

President Donald Trump wants the Census Bureau to add back the citizenship question, which hasn’t appeared on the full Census since 1950.

18 states, 10 cities and four counties have sued amid concerns that the question will cause some households with undocumented residents to not participate.

"I want to see everyone counted,'' the governor said Monday after issuing an executive order to educate Arizonans about why participating in the Census is important.

The order said each person counted translates into $887 annually in federal dollars.

Ducey's position comes despite a ruling by a federal judge in January to block the question from appearing on the Census. Judge Jesse Furman said that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross exceeded his legal authority when he made the decision.

Furman said the question would result in an undercount of immigrants and would pretty much guarantee that California would lose a congressional seat.

But the judge also said that Arizona — along with Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois — would face "a substantial risk of losing a seat.'' And Arizona, which currently has nine seats in the House, was hoping for at least a tenth after the count.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review Furman's ruling and issue a final decision in June to give the Census Bureau time to figure out which version of the questionnaire to print.

The 2020 Census is set to start on April 1, 2020.

The final count is used to determine representation in the 435-member U.S. House of Representatives and how many Electoral College votes each state gets.

Then there's the division of federal dollars for schools, roads and other services.

In issuing the executive order Monday, Ducey said he wants an accurate count to ensure Arizona gets its fair share. He figures that a 1 percent undercount — about 70,000 given the current population — would deny the state $62 million a year, not just starting in 2021, but for the entire decade.

In Arizona there are 275,000 estimated undocumented residents.

Ducey formed a 19-member panel this week "to ensure widespread public awareness'' of the importance of the decennial count. And that include developing "targeted plans'' aimed at groups that have historically been undercounted in the past.

Claire Caulfield was a reporter and Morning Edition producer at KJZZ from 2015 to 2019.