Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, joins MSNBC's MTP Daily to discuss the citizenship question being added to the 2020 census.
Guest host Katy Tur asked Perez shouldn't it matter who is a citizen of this country, in terms of representation, and who is not.
Perez said trying to figure out who and who is not a citizen is a "scare tactic" and called it "voter suppression" to only county U.S. citizens in the census. He said not counting non-citizens will hurt "funding formulas."
TUR: Good. Senator Jim Inhofe says this is all about accurately assessing the number of citizens. Shouldn't the government have the ability to know who is inside this country?
PEREZ: I agree that accuracy accounts, and the census is the constitutionally mandated requirement that you count the number of persons in the United States, not the number of citizens. The census is not a political tool for hyper-partisan activity and that's exactly what the Trump administration is trying to do.
It is wrong to do this. And you know what? When I hear the voting rights justification used to say this is why we need to do this, as someone who enforce the Voting Rights Act at the Justice Department for a number of years, the Voting Rights Act does not require this.
And frankly, it is insulting to the people who gave their lives in the passage of the Voting Rights Act to use the Voting Rights Act as a perverse justification for voter suppression...
TUR: Can't folks argue though that you're pursuing a partisan agenda as well? There are folks on the other side who would say that illegal immigrants shouldn't be covered in terms of getting resources like health and education.
These are for American citizens. Why are you counting people who are not here legally, who don't deserve to have the same resources, the same benefits that American citizens pay taxes for every day? That's what the conservatives might say.
PEREZ: Katy, I always thought conservatives went back to the plain language of the constitution. The plain language of the constitution in the enumeration requirement says you are to count the number of persons in the United States every 10 years. It does not say count the number of U.S. citizens.
They want to change it to count the number of U.S. citizens so that they can engage in very not subtle voter suppression. That is illegal and that is totally inconsistent with what the north star of the census in Republican and Democratic administration has been.
It's been about accuracy. That's why you see folks from the Bush administration and other Republicans who are calling out this complete overreach. I mean Donald Trump before this announcement was made was already fund raising off of this.
This is just another divide-and-conquer effort. This is a first cousin of this voter I.D. law to make sure that African-Americans and Latinos can't vote. This is not who we are as a nation. This is not why people died for the passage of the Voting Rights Act.