Supreme Court census decision worries Illinois advocates who see danger in ruling to stop count

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Advocates for minorities and low income communities in Illinois see dangers in the Supreme Court's ruling that allows the Trump administration's Census Bureau to stop the count before October 31.

After a back and forth fight about extending and then halting the census count, Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration.

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"The plaintiff side of the argument is basically this: We need more time. It's a pandemic and if you bring counting a halt right now you're not going to count the people who need to be counted," explained ABC7 legal analyst Gil Soffer. "On the other side, the administration is saying, we're looking at December 31 deadline to make a final report to Congress about the head count."

Governor JB Pritzker tweeted, "The Supreme Court's decision to allow @realDonaldTrump to cut the Census short is wrong. It means an undercount in communities that can least afford it, perpetuating generations of disinvestment that make our nation weaker."

Conducted just once a decade, Census Bureau workers and volunteers attempt to count the country's population. That count determines representation in Congress, as well as how and where federal funding is distributed.

"Each of us is at risk of losing representation in Congress, so we're pretty certain Illinois is going to lose at least one representative in the House of Representatives," said Maria Fitzsimmons, 2020 census director for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee rights. "That just dilutes the amount of voices in Congress speaking for our needs."

The representation and funding of neighborhoods across the country may well have been capped with the abrupt end of the census count.

"It will increase poverty among people as a result of this decisions. And it could potentially affect the redistricting process if a full census is undertaken. So it has all kinds of consequences," said Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-IL 4). "This could have a devastating impact on marginalized, lower income communities across the country."

The Supreme Court's ruling Is not exactly the final word. An appeals process could play out in a lower court, but the case won't be argued before the original October 31 deadline, so the last day to submit your census response is this coming Thursday, October 15.
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