By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor, mgreen@afro.com

The NAACP on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against President Trump, the Census Bureau and the secretary of commerce demanding a more accurate count of minority populations, such as those in Prince George’s County, which, the lawsuit contends, suffered from one of the leading undercounts in the state of Maryland and nation during the last census.

The lawsuit accuses the government’s preparation for the 2020 count to be “conspicuously deficient”, and suggests that the under-recorded census violates a constitutional order to count all the people in the country and harms Black and Hispanic populations according to The Washington Post. Further, the lawsuit, whose lead counsel is the Yale Law School Rule of Law Clinic, suggests that the plan to use digital technology for the first time and stop field tests, because of funding, will result in a “massive undercount of communities of color.”

Bob Ross, president of the Prince George’s County NAACP, is a plaintiff listed on the lawsuit against President Trump, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the secretary of commerce, demanding a more accurate count of minority populations. (Courtesy photo)

The NAACP was already working on the lawsuit before the Monday, March 26 announcement by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, that the 2020 decennial count, for the first time since 1950, would include a question about citizenship.  Some critics of the question worry it will scare immigrants from completing the survey, which could result in a less accurate count and slant toward Republican-friendly redistricting.

The decennial count is important because it determines the amount of congressional seats, affects the shape of districts and establishes the amount of federal funding allocated to an area.

Home to approximately 900,000 residents, with a large minority population, Prince George’s County fell victim to a 2.3 percent net undercount in the 2010 Census, according to the lawsuit, which is detrimental for residents because it results in consistent underfunding.

“An accurate census count is critical to the federal funding, political representation and operations of Prince George’s County,” said County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) in a statement which announced the suit. “A vast majority of the residents of Prince George’s county are members of this nation’s historically disenfranchised populations.  We cannot let this continue in 2018, 2020 or any year moving forward.”

NAACP Prince George’s County Branch President, Bob Ross, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, also discussed the insidious harm the undercount causes.

“When the Census Bureau undercounts my community, we lose political power and fewer of our federal tax dollars end up coming home to fix our roads, run our schools, and fund our fund our federal programs… We felt these effects in the aftermath of the 2010 Census, and all signs indicate that the 2020 Census will be even worse,” Ross said in a statement.