Census facing resistance to touchy citizenship question

01 April, 2018, 00:56 | Author: Inez Murphy
  • A man waves an American flag

Advisers for the Census Bureau argue that the Trump administration's decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census was based on "flawed logic" and could lead to an inaccurate count in the census.

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.

Federal law requires that citizens are counted in a decennial census that not only helps redraw political boundaries, but also for counties and states to receive federal money for improvement of schools, roads and other needs.

The multistate effort to get Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to reverse inclusion of the citizenship question is the right fight.

These actions fly in the face of centuries of bipartisan consensus on the importance of a precise and reliable Census count, which is required by the United States Constitution.

The Census Bureau can't legally turn over personal data to other government departments, but plenty of people won't find much comfort in that.

At least one lawsuit has been filed over the citizenship question.

And finally, in the larger scheme of things, this would do far more harm than good due to how the data is used in the real world, since bad census data ends up harming us all. "It's basic common sense for the federal government to get an accurate tally of the citizenship status of people who live in the United States", said Donovan. If they choose to violate USA law yet again by refusing to participate in the census because of a perfectly legitimate question about citizenship, that's not the US government's fault.

I can not relay how disappointed I am in @CommerceGov's decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 Decennial #Census.

The citizenship question had been requested earlier this year by the Justice Department, which said it needed more detailed citizenship data to better enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

And that brings me to the 2020 census.

The evidence that does exist shows that the concerns about the citizenship question curbing participation are legitimate.

And while the U.S. Census is under the control of the executive branch through the Commerce Department, don't be surprised if the courts back the challengers.

That is all the Census was meant to do: Perform a head count every 10 years so the federal government could make its representation and tax disbursements fair and balanced.

The counter-argument, of course, is that by not asking people about their citizenship, the census is deliberately avoiding an important question.

In a letter to Ross in January, six Census Bureau directors from past Republican and Democratic administrations questioned the science behind making such a decision, stressing that the effect of adding a citizenship question in the modern era is "completely unknown" and would "increase the risks to the 2020 enumeration". It would be a disgrace to see the 2020 census used as a political football, with tweets from the White House to rile up some voting blocs while frightening other groups into not participating. Furthermore, the proposed question is about citizenship, not legal status.

If you are not and someone from the federal government asks you that question, your blood might freeze.

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