Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Jul 26 2018

Census has not asked a citizenship question since 1950

SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued the following statement today, after U.S. District Court Judge Jesse M. Furman rejected the Trump Administration’s attempt to dismiss Ferguson’s multistate lawsuit over the federal government’s decision to include a question about citizenship status in the 2020 U.S. Census.

“This illegal decision by the Trump Administration jeopardizes billions of federal dollars Washington receives every year, and will impact our congressional representation for the next decade,” Ferguson said. “We can’t allow the Administration to avoid responsibility for this blatantly political action. Now, they’ll have to answer for it in court.”

At a hearing on July 3, Judge Furman also granted the states’ request to force the Administration to provide more documents and information surrounding its decision to add the question to the 2020 Census.

Case background

In February, Ferguson joined 18 other Attorneys General and the governor of Colorado in a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross arguing that a question regarding citizenship “would significantly depress participation, causing a population undercount that would disproportionately harm states and cities with large immigrant communities.”

In 2015, Washington received more than $650 million in federal highway money and nearly $460 million in school funding and federal special education grants directly tied to the Census count. That same year, the state received nearly $4 billion under the Medicaid program, some of which could also be in jeopardy if the state’s population is undercounted.

Roughly one in seven Washington residents is an immigrant, and one in eight native-born U.S. citizens in Washington lives with at least one immigrant. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 351,000 people in Washington lived with at least one undocumented family member.

The multistate lawsuit, filed earlier this year in the Southern District of New York, challenges the Administration’s decision to add the question on citizenship to the Census. The City of Seattle also joined the lawsuit.

Assistant Attorney General Laura Clinton and Deputy Solicitor General Peter Gonick are handling the case for Washington.


The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.


Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; brionna.aho@atg.wa.gov