Addition of Citizenship Question to Census Heading to the Courts

30 March, 2018, 01:06 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Wilbur Ross

The commerce secretary, head of the federal department that runs the Census Bureau, said he authorized the question in response to a Justice Department letter arguing the citizenship question was vital to enforcement of the Voting Rights Act.

"The decision to add this question without any testing at this late stage is deeply troubling and reckless", Meng said.

Several states that have slowing population growth or high numbers of immigrants such as California, New York, Illinois, Massachusetts and OH are typically at risk of losing U.S. House seats when their congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years - depending on how fully their residents are counted.

Attorney General Becerra has been a vocal opponent of the Trump Administration's attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau questionnaire. According to the Times, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said he will also be leading a multistate lawsuit to stop this change. They said the move was created to undercount immigrants, potentially reducing their representation in Congress and federal funding for local jurisdictions, which is determined by population. A population undercount not only threatens our economy, it jeopardizes our fair representation in Congress and our fundamental voting rights.

Queens is the nation's most ethnically diverse county, where almost half of the residents are foreign-born.

Yet last September, census workers conducting pretesting studies described "a new phenomenon" of respondents anxious about the confidentiality of the survey process.

In a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed published March 26, Becerra and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla say the census has a specific constitutional objective, which is to provide an accurate count of all residents.

Meng questioned and expressed concerns to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross during an Appropriations Subcommittee hearing March 20, reaffirming her opposition to the Justice Department's request to add a citizenship question to the census.


Saturday is the deadline for the Commerce Department to decide whether that question will stay.

The U.S. Constitution mandates a census takes place every 10 years, counting every person in the United States.

There is some time before the census is finalized.

"It's an attempt to affect who is in Congress", Marin said of the citizenship question. And on the city of Boston's official website, answering the citizenship question is mandatory when filling out the form.

But Ross added that "neither the Census Bureau nor the concerned stakeholders could document that the response rate would in fact decline materially". There is too much at stake to risk an inaccurate count.

Smaller Census surveys already ask about citizenship, as they should. That will lead to fewer seats, fewer resources, for areas that have lots of immigrants, particularly Democratic areas, places like NY and California.

Some fear a new addition to the 2020 U.S. Census could cause Texas to lose out on congressional seats and millions of dollars.

Therein lies the reason why politicians in the blue states that tend to vote for Democratic candidates are opposed to including the question about citizenship in the census. But not since Truman was President has the form that every household in America is legally obligated to fill out and return - the no-frills headcount that determines the distribution of congressional districts, federal spending and more - demanded immigration information.

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