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Furor Over Proposed Census Question on Citizenship

The 2010 Census included questions on race and Hispanic origin, but nothing like a question about citizenship status.
January 7, 2018, 7am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"The Justice Department is pushing for a question on citizenship to be added to the 2020 census, a move that observers say could depress participation by immigrants who fear that the government could use the information against them," reports Justin Elliott.

The Census already struggles to reach minority and undocumented populations out of a similar fear. This new question would exacerbate a problem already evident in the American Community Survey. According to a Census Bureau presentation available online [pdf], "the political climate is already having an effect on responsiveness to the bureau’s American Community Survey."

The Department of Justice official who requested the change in a letter "argues that the DOJ needs better citizenship data to better enforce the Voting Rights Act 'and its important protections against racial discrimination in voting,'" according to Elliott. As Elliott report, there have been indications of a desire within the Trump Administration to add a question on citizenship to the Census. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has the power to decide on the question.

An update to the story reveals that two members of Congress on the House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, which has oversight of the Census, are taking seriously the possibility that the new question could be added. Reps. Jose Serrano and Grace Meng, both New York Democrats, sent a letter to Secretary Ross urging him to reject the question.

This is not the first sign of trouble for Census 2020's approach to matters related to race. The NAACP announced a lawsuit accusing the Trump Administration of inadequate preparation for Census 2020. All Planetizen coverage of the Census 2020 is available here.

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Published on Friday, December 29, 2017 in ProPublica
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