Census Will Ask About Citizenship Status

Trump administration to reinstate census question about citizenship

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the state would file a lawsuit challenging what he called an "illegal" move.

The question has not been on the full census since the 1950s, but does appear on the yearly American Community Survey administered by the Census Bureau to give a fuller picture of life in America and the population.

The decision to include citizenship question came at the request of the US Department of Justice, which said in December it needed the information to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, arguing that it needed citizenship status data to more aptly guard against racial discrimination in voting.

Ross noted the concerns about lower response rates, including from the Census Bureau itself, but said his department's own review "found that limited empirical evidence exists about whether adding a citizenship question would decrease response rates materially".

"All census numbers are used to reapportion seats in Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, and also these numbers have an impact on how billions of dollars are distributed around the country. from the federal level all the way down to the local level of how school districts figure out how to divide up resources".

Democrats say the use of a citizenship question on the U.S. Census is likely-and intended-to diminish the political power of blue states because the question might prompt many immigrants to abstain from returning their census forms entirely.

Ross said those factors were considered but the department "determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government goal outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts". The question was last asked in 1950, according to NPR. He wrote, "The citizenship data provided to DOJ will be more accurate with the question than without it, which is of greater importance than any adverse effect that may result from people violating their legal duty to respond".

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"It is long settled that all persons residing in the United States - citizens and non-citizens alike - must be counted to fulfill the Constitution's "actual Enumeration" mandate", the suit argues.

The census has included a citizenship question in the past.

One of the primary complaints from critics was that it may lead to an inaccurate Census count.

"We will litigate to stop the Administration from moving forward with this irresponsible decision", Holder wrote. The move comes after a 2017 request by the Justice Department to include the question. The Justice Department has also sued California over its so-called sanctuary policies to protect immigrants. "By asking this question, states will not have accurate representation and individuals in impacted communities will lose out on state and federal funding for health care, education, and infrastructure". Asking census respondents if they are citizens would help the government gather now unavailable data on the population of people who are actually eligible to vote, the memorandum said.

"Undercounting the sizeable number of Californian non-citizens and their citizen relatives will imperil the State's fair share of congressional seats and Electoral College electors and will cost the State billions in federal funding over the next decade", the attorney general's lawsuit says.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund said the addition "would have catastrophic consequences for Latinos and all Americans".

"Now, in one fell swoop, the US Commerce Department has ignored its own protocols and years of preparation in a concerted effort to suppress a fair and accurate census count from our diverse communities".

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