The 2020 census data that showed New York grew more slowly than other states, leaving it poised to have one less seat in the House of Representatives, may be subject to a legal challenge.
If New York had just 89 more people in the census count, officials said, then it would have kept the seat at the expense of Minnesota.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted the slim margin and accused former President Donald Trump’s administration of having a “chilling effect” on some immigrants who may not have filled out the census.
Cuomo, a Democrat, on Tuesday urged New York State Attorney General Letitia James, another Democrat, to explore legal options to challenge the count.
“You had a lot going on. You had people who were nervous to come forward, right? You have undocumented people who are nervous to come forward. I do believe the federal government had a chilling effect,” he told reporters during a press conference.
“Do I think it was accurate to within 89? No. And we’re looking at legal options. Because when you’re talking about 89, I mean, that could be a minor mistake in counting, right?”
Undocumented is another term for illegal immigrants.
The Census Bureau did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the office of James.
Ron Jarmin, the acting director of the bureau, said in a statement on Monday that officials are confident the results “meet our high data quality standards” while Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said the bureau “overcame unprecedented challenges to collect and produce high-quality data that will inform decision-making for years to come.”
Along with giving states an idea of how much they’ve grown or retracted, the census count, done once a decade, is used to apportion seats in the lower chamber of Congress, with shifts each time.
Because of strong growth in Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon, each of those states will gain one House seat. Texas will gain two.
California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are poised to lose seats along with New York.
The population in New York grew by 823,147 to just over 20 million between the 2010 and the 2020 census counts.
In contrast, the number of residents in Texas jumped by nearly 4 million to 29.1 million.
New York will still have 26 representatives in the House if the figures remain unchallenged (pdf), the fourth-highest number behind Texas, Florida, and California.
The shift in seats will not apply until the 118th Congress, which convenes in January 2023.
Redistricting will take place in a number of states, including those which saw a loss or gain in seats, before the 2022 midterm elections.