LOS ANGELES – Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund), issued the following statement on the U.S. Commerce Department’s decision to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census:

“Over the years, presidential administrations of both parties have administered the Census scientifically and moderately, refusing to politicize a sacred constitutional mandate that goes back to our nation’s beginning.

Yesterday, the Trump administration ended that tradition, opting to politicize the decennial enumeration of all persons by precipitously adding an unnecessary citizenship question in the clear hope of reducing the count of Latinos, the nation’s largest minority group.

In response, MALDEF calls for the immediate resignation of Wilbur Ross. His acquiescence in this political maneuver demonstrates his thorough incompetence to serve as Commerce Secretary. His apparent lack of even basic integrity has created a constitutional violation of unprecedented potential impact.

Second, MALDEF calls upon every member of Congress to take immediate and effective action to prevent this politicization of the Census and of the constitutional obligation to perform an ‘actual enumeration’ of all persons living in the United States.

Third, MALDEF will take the necessary legal steps to prevent this pernicious decision from taking effect for the 2020 Census. Some have already filed lawsuits, and MALDEF will join appropriately in challenging this administration’s latest, very serious constitutional depredation.

Finally, however, we note that this attack on the Latino community will most assuredly backfire. The Latino community WILL be counted, at the Census and at the polls. Our community’s defiance of Donald Trump’s consistent attempts to whitewash Latinos out of our country’s governance and civic sector will be strong and vibrant.”