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Illinois Congressman wants everyone counted for citizen regardless of legal status

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019  |  Article  |  By Greg Bishop | The Center Square

Candidates--Federal (13) , Demographics, Census, Statistics

As the White House continues forward with attempts to get a citizenship question on the upcoming U.S. Census, an Illinois congressman said everyone should be counted, regardless of immigration status.

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court shot down a proposed citizenship question for the Census, but left the door open for the issue to be considered again. Over the weekend, President Donald Trump said he had options.

“We can do a memorandum, we can do an executive order, we’re looking at different things, but there are other alternatives,” Trump said.

The president said it makes no sense to not ask if someone is a citizen or not.

“They’re spending $15 [billion] to $20 billion on a census. They’re asking everything except 'are you a citizen of the United States?' How ridiculous is that,” Trump said. “So we are moving forward. We have a couple of different avenues.”

Attorney General William Barr said they’re reviewing those avenues.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week said she’ll fight the efforts to put a citizenship question on the ballot.

“From the moment it was announced, cities, states, immigration advocates and government leaders across the country recognized the census citizenship question for what it was – a blatant attempt to scare immigrant and refugee communities into the shadows and undercount the cities and metropolitan areas in which they live,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “We will remain vigilant against any attempts to divide our country or intimidate our communities.”

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said no one should be excluded from the Census, even if they’re here illegally.

“The [U.S.] Constitution says count people in this country and that means we’ve got to count everyone that is here at the time we do that census count,” Davis said.

Davis said it’s crucial that everyone, regardless if they’re here illegally or not, should be counted in Illinois. He said the size of Illinois' congressional delegation – and the state's voice in Washington – depends on it.

“We also lose federal funding opportunities because it’s based on how many members of congress you have and also the population of the state,” Davis said. “I want everyone to be counted.”

Illinois could lose up to two seats in congress if the state's population continues to decline.

While immigrant rights groups in Illinois have vowed to fight the effort, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has issued $29 million in state money to pay groups to work with communities to ensure an accurate count.

Census questionnaires need to be printed by the time they’re set to be sent out in waves, beginning in March 2020.