EDINBURG – Hidalgo County will join nationwide litigation opposing the inclusion of the citizenship question in the 2020 Census questionnaire.

Commissioners Court voted to join the multi-state lawsuit and hire attorney Rolando Rios to represent the county.

“Hidalgo County has historically been undercounted in the past,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Eduardo “Eddie” Cantu, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting. “Including extraneous questions, such as whether a person is a citizen, is not necessary to the process and will, in fact, deter some people from participating.”

Rios, who is based in San Antonio, has represented the county twice in past Census challenges. He represented the county in challenging the 2010 census results and in a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Commerce over the 2000 census.

The lawsuit is spearheaded nationally by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and includes Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington in addition to various cities and counties throughout the country.

County Judge Ramon Garcia said Hidalgo County, and the entire region, has faced many challenges during previous Census efforts that have led to significant undercounts.

“Our voices aren’t being represented by our state’s leadership. It is clear we must act on this disconnect between our region’s priorities and those of the state,” said Garcia. “This shouldn’t be a political topic. The Constitution mandates that all those residing in the United States be counted. This question directly interferes with a fair and accurate enumeration.”