Will Census Ask About Citizenship for the First Time Since 1950?

Wilbur Ross

In a memo announcing his decision, Ross said that "The Census Bureau and many stakeholders expressed concern that [a citizenship question] would negatively impact the response rate for non-citizens".

Last year, Gore was appointed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as the head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, where he reversed the legal challenge to a Texas law that the administration of former President Barack Obama alleged discriminated against minorities. The Census Bureau conducts a separate detailed survey of a sample of US households that includes questions about citizenship.

The Commerce Department said the question is an attempt to better enforce the Voting Rights Act which requires a count of citizens of voting age to prohibit racial discrimination in voting.

If there's disenfranchisement to worry about, it'll stem straight from the Census undercounts that will result from undocumented respondents unwilling to confess their immigration status to the federal government.

The Trump administration wants to ask a question about citizenship on the Census form. She said her group has spent years educating immigrants about the 2020 census.

Yesterday, writing about the Commerce Department's decision to ask about people's citizenship in the 2020 census, I wrote: "Any country, especially one in which immigration is hotly debated, ought to have a good idea of how many citizens and how many non-citizens make up its population".

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In response to the announcement, at least 12 states were reportedly planning to sue in an effort to keep the question off the form.

The Trump administration's decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 US Census set off threats of a lawsuit from Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and caused the state's elections chief to accuse federal officials of attempting to "sabotage" the census. "If Washington state's large immigrant population isn't accurately counted, the impact on our Congressional representation and billions of dollars in federal funds our state receives could be jeopardized", Ferguson said.

Immigrant advocates, however, fear the question will deter New York immigrants from answering truthfully, said New York Immigration Coalition executive director Steven Choi.

State Sen. Tony Vargas, who represents South Omaha, said adding the question would build distrust in immigrant communities.

Cities with higher immigrant populations - Omaha, Lexington and Schuyler, for instance - could potentially be affected more if people are undercounted, Drozd said.

"Having an accurate Census count should be of the utmost importance for every Californian", Becerra said in a statement quoted by The Hill. "I did plan on going this summer, but my attorney and friends recommended against it, even though I'm a permanent resident", Balde said. GOP Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ted Cruz of Texas had sent a letter to the Commerce Department asking Ross to add the question. The citizenship question hasn't gone through the same level of rigorous testing as other census questions; it shouldn't be included if there is any chance it could undermine the value of this crucial population survey.

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