2020 census will ask about citizenship

2020 census will ask about citizenship

Kerry Wise
March 28, 2018

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state will sue the Trump Administration over its decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. "Make no mistake: this decision is anti-immigrant and is intended only to serve the political agenda of those in power in Washington".

The Census Bureau plans to allow people to respond to the survey on a paper form, through the internet or by telephone.

California's Attorney General has already announced that they're suing over the question. Now, if you want to have a debate about whether the census should be asking any questions beyond the number of people at any residence and their ages, I'll be happy to take your side if you say no. The Department of Justice argued that the collection of the information was necessary to ensure an accurate count, consistent with proper enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

In announcing the decision Monday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the question should help identify possible voting rights transgressions. The government already does regular surveys that judge, among other things, the citizenship status of localities based on samples of the population.

California would be particularly hard-hit by the change, due to its high proportion of foreign-born and undocumented residents, as Becerra's lawsuit states. But critics say a new move by the Trump administration is an attempt to politicize this service.

The Trump administration argues that obtaining broader and more specific data on citizenship is crucial to determine the population of eligible voters in each individual census block, a data point that's not now available.

The last time all US residents were asked about their citizenship was in 1950, when census respondents were asked, "If foreign born, is the person naturalized?"

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"Including a citizenship question on the 2020 census is not just a bad idea - it is illegal", Becerra wrote after the announcement in an op-ed alongside California secretary of state Alex Padilla. If baseline data regarding the current population are inaccurate, future projections could be skewed, causing financial challenges down the line.

"This question will lower the response rate and undermine the accuracy of the count, leading to devastating, decade-long impacts on voting rights and the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funding", said Mr Holder.

"This decision comes at a time when we have seen xenophobic and anti-immigrant policy positions from this administration", said Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

"We take on this responsibility in full recognition of the importance of getting it right - because there is nothing more important than respect and trust between law enforcement and the communities that they are sworn to protect as we work to keep all Californians safe".

"Our Constitution requires a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the country, no matter her or his citizenship status". "The Trump administration's reckless decision to suddenly abandon almost 70 years of practice by demanding to know the citizenship status of each resident counted cuts to the heart of this sacred obligation - and will create an environment of fear and distrust in immigrant communities that would make impossible both an accurate Census and the fair distribution of federal tax dollars".

"A question on citizenship is a reasonable, commonsense addition to the census", he added. "We urge the administration to reconsider".