By Naeisha Rose
The acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has agreed to testify — again –about adding a controversial question on citizenship to the Census after U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) demanded that he appear following his decision to skip an earlier hearing.
John Gore, the acting assistant attorney general, will testify Friday about the question to identify an immigrant’s legal status, which will be added to the 2020 census forms, according to a spokesman for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
This comes days after Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) agreed to Maloney’s request to have Gore subpoenaed after he failed to go to a May 8 committee hearing about the census.
Maloney, who also represents Long Island City and Woodside, as incensed when he did not attend the hearing.
“Mr. Gore’s decision to not show up to this hearing, after initially agreeing to testify, is an insult to all members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the critical role that our committee plays in overseeing the executive branch,” said Maloney. “The American public and its representatives deserve answers about the Department of Justice’s decision to request that a citizenship question be added to the decennial census and why the department believes it is necessary.”
Gowdy, who also said he was disappointed by Gore’s absence, took a break from the committee meeting, and later came back to voice his displeasure with the head of the Justice Department in a crowded room of furious Democrats.
“As I said in my opening, he is coming to talk whether he wants to or not,” said Gowdy.
Maloney also accused the Justice Department of lying about the question being added to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.
“No serious Voting Rights Act expert has called for this data,” said Maloney.
Despite the shake-up at the New York attorney general’s office, resulting in Eric Schneiderman leaving that post amid sexual misconduct allegations May 7, his replacement, Barbara Underwood, will pick up where he left off in the lawsuit against the Trump administration’s demand for the citizenship question, according to a spokesman for the AG’s office.
Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) said the federal government is using the census as a political tool and that the anti-immigrant climate will result in a skewed population count.
“Simply put, the citizenship status question in the Census 2020 is unjust and un-American,” said Peralta. “It is reckless to include this question, and I hope the administration takes it out to get a real count of the population. The public deserves to know why this question was included in the Census 2020.”
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), one of the fiercest opponents of the citizenship question, was equally concerned about the impact it would have on the census.
“This will include impacts on federal funding for schools, infrastructure, hospitals and other critical services,” said Meng. “An inaccurate and incomplete count…will have a decade’s worth of consequences on Queens and the rest of our city.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose