The Truth Behind The Republicans' Citizenship Question Revealed

Last March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made an announcement.

Based on a supposed request from the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), in order to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibiting discriminatory voting practices and/or procedures, Ross thought it would be a good idea to include a question on the upcoming 2020 census inquiring about people's citizenship status.

In fact, the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is, as we speak, poised to provide responses to this seemingly innocuous question in a major case that could alter the country's political landscape for decades.

It appears as though Ross and the DOJ really care about preserving voters' integrity.

Well, let's not jump to conclusions.

This is Donald Trump's administration after all.

Despite all the pseudo-altruism, the concept of a citizenship question originated not from the DOJ, but from a now-deceased GOP strategist who made suppressing the minority vote his life's work.

And we now have the evidence to prove it.

Prominent Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller, the “Michelangelo of gerrymandering,” died in August, leaving behind hard drives full of files that lay out a plan for adding a citizenship question to the census that “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats,” and benefit white Republicans in redistricting.

Hofeller then took his scheme to the Trump administration in 2017.

According to a letter plaintiffs’ lawyers challenging the question wrote U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman, one of three federal judges who ruled against the census question:

"[Hofeller] played a significant role in orchestrating the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Decennial Census in order to create a structural electoral advantage for, in his own words, ‘Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.’”

Hofeller's daughter, Stephanie Hofeller Lizon, discovered the hard drives and shared them with Common Cause, a grassroots organization working to "Create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process," currently engaged in a gerrymandering lawsuit in North Carolina.

Ari Berman, senior writer at Mother Jones, author of the article “Architect of GOP Gerrymandering Was Behind Trump’s Census Citizenship Question,” stated on Democracy Now!:

"This is really startling smoking-gun evidence in the census case that really undercuts why the Trump administration added this question. So, the Trump administration added the citizenship question, and they claimed it was needed to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. Well, these new documents from Tom Hofeller show that it was not needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act, and, in fact, the people that would be most harmed by the addition of the citizenship question—Latinos and other racial minorities—are the very groups the Voting Rights Act was designed to protect...So there you have it. I mean, this is really black and white. You can’t get any more explicit than this. We now know for certain this is why the question was added to the census."

About Tom Hofeller, Berman added:

"He has basically been the Republican Party’s go-to guy when it comes to redistricting. So he’s traveled, since the 1980s, state after state after state, drawn maps to boost Republican representation."

A decade ago the Republican party was licking its wounds after the country elected its first African American president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

So Republicans came up with a strategy: concentrate on 16 states and gerrymander them so badly Democrats have little to no mathematical chance of winning in the 2010 mid-term elections.

They had their “Michelangelo of gerrymandering” in Tom Hofeller.

Now let's see how they pledge allegiance.

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Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, Straight Forward Poetry, The Broke Bohemian, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Op-Ed News, Liberal America, and Liberal Nation Rising.

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