The Census is meant to be a fair and accurate count of people residing in the United States. So naturally, Donald Trump is teaming up with Wilbur Ross and Steve Bannon to sabotage it.

Original photographs: Michael Vadon and Gage Skidmore

Below:

  • Why the Census matters
  • How Trump is putting his finger on the scale for Republicans
  • How to stop it

Here’s what you need to know about the next big battle over something we thought we could take for granted:

The Trump Administration wants to game the numbers

We know the White House loves to make up numbers. But how exactly can you sabotage the Census?

Simply add a question that was removed after 1950: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”

The question’s in the dustbin of history for a good reason — but Trump wants to bring it back anyway. Why? Because asking about families’ citizenship discourages immigrants from returning Census forms, or answering their doors for surveys. Surprise! It’s a scare tactic, meant to intimidate immigrant communities and consolidate political power in the hands of white Republicans.

And those fears aren’t unfounded. During World War II, the U.S. government used confidential Census data to intern Japanese-Americans.

The Constitution is very clear on this question: the Census should count the total population, not just citizens.

And we don’t just count people for fun:

The Census determines where money & political power flow

Under the Constitution, each Census determines seats in the House of Representatives. But it’s about much more than that. Federal law also uses the official count to determine things like:

  • funding for nutrition programs for women, infants, and children
  • where we build new public transit
  • who gets new infrastructure, like treatment plants for clean water
  • where we build affordable housing
  • and a lot more

Which is great if the numbers are fair and accurate, and less so if someone like Wilbur Ross is trying to undercount vulnerable populations.

The end goal is obvious and cruel: more money and power for red states, and less for blue states.

(Republicans also want to use citizenship data to draw citizen-only districts to benefit their party — something that’s illegal at the federal level but possible for state-level redistricting.)

How to fight back

Thanks to several states suing the Trump administration, the citizenship question will be in front of Supreme Court late in April.

But you don’t have to wait for Brett Kavanaugh’s opinion! Several bills currently before Congress (including the Every Person Counts Act) would block the Census changes, making it illegal to ask questions about citizenship or immigration status.

Today, we’re asking you to contact your Senator and urge them to support these bills. Tell them to stand up and save the Census from becoming a political tool.

Here’s the Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121