Hidalgo County joins suit opposing citizenship question on census

Hidalgo County hired a San Antonio attorney to join a multi-state lawsuit that aims to block the federal government from including a citizenship question on the upcoming U.S. Census.

Commissioners made the move Tuesday, a week after issuing a proclamation in opposition of its inclusion, which they say will deter a large portion of the community from filling out the forms or giving information to census workers.

Rolando Rios of San Antonio will once again represent the county in legal matters involving the U.S. Census Bureau. Rios represented the county in challenging the 2010 Census results and in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Commerce over the 2000 census, county officials stated in a news release.

“Hidalgo County has historically been undercounted in the past,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Eddie Cantu said. “Including extraneous questions, such as whether a person is a citizen, is not necessary to the process and will, in fact, deter some people from participating.”

The county stands to lose a hefty amount of funding should the question be included, Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia previously said. On Tuesday, he indicated that the state is not doing enough to ensure everyone is counted in 2020.

“Our voices aren’t being represented by our state’s leadership,” he said. “It is clear we must act on this disconnect between our region’s priorities and those of the state.”

The lawsuit is spearheaded nationally by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and includes Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts and Minnesota in addition to New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington. Various cities and counties throughout the country are also involved.

“This shouldn’t be a political topic,” Garcia said. “The Constitution mandates that all those residing in the United States be counted. This question directly interferes with a fair and accurate enumeration.”