Frenzy Over Reintroduced Citizenship Census Question is Overblown

The addition of a question of citizenship in the Census of 2020 has triggered a strong wave of criticism and warning from Latino representatives in Congress

US Commerce Department Adds Question about Citizenship to Census

The bill Bennet co-sponsored says it would "prohibit the Secretary of Commerce from including any census question regarding United States citizenship or immigration status".

Democrats are anxious that adding a citizenship question will dampen participation in the census by illegal immigrants, reducing the total population count in the Democratic-leaning metropolitan areas where illegal immigrants are largely concentrated.

The concern from Becerra, Schneiderman and others is that people living in the US who are either not citizens or not in the country legally will be far more reluctant to fill out the Census, thus skewing the data received and depriving certain states the congressional representation they ought to have and the government spending it needs.

The only possible explanation for inclusion of a citizenship question is to skew the data for political gain. "We simply need the political will to make sure we have an accurate count for this [upcoming] Census".

The Trump administration faced immediate backlash after officials announced Monday that the question would be added to the 2020 census. The state of California has already filed suit, arguing that including the question is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of NY announced he would lead a separate multistate legal challenge. In 2010, it cost almost $33 million to follow-up with the 975,000 North Carolina households that did not initially complete the federally mandated census form.

The census, conducted every 10 years, is required by the U.S. Constitution to count every single resident of the country, including non-citizens.

While community organizations and minority groups have made their fears about the question clear, said Timothy Olson, the bureau's associate director for field operations, some census offices have also seen shows of support, including an "unheard-of" 400 job applications received in one day.

The Department of Commerce created a stir when it announced that it meant to add this question back to the 2020 Census.

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THE FACTS: The Justice Department has been enforcing the Voting Rights Act with citizenship data already available from government surveys.

Congress delegated to the Secretary of Commerce the authority to determine questions to be asked on the decennial census.

The last time census takers asked about citizenship was 1950.

Right now, 12 states are set to sue the Trump administration over the asking of this question.

Shapiro, however, concluded that population figures in states with the largest number of illegal immigrants - Nevada, Texas, California, New Jersey, Arizona, Florida, and Maryland - could be thrown off if millions of people decline to fill out their census surveys.

We don't know if the federal government would count an incomplete form. Distribution of federal money is sometimes based on population, so areas with higher proportions of undocumented immigrants could lose out.

But Democrats said the move will lead to the undercounting of legal immigrants, distorting the United States electoral balance. One of the significant challenges of every Census is overcoming anxiety and suspicion among hard-to-count populations, especially new immigrants seeking refuge in America.

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