Census Citizenship Question Still Not Decided

Cities fear federal funding cuts if the citizen question stays on the Census and results in an undercount of Latino populations.

February 1, 2019, 10:00 AM PST

By Casey Brazeal @northandclark

Federal Building

Hayk_Shalunts / Shutterstock

The Trump administration's attempt to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census has made a hard job harder for cities. Hard-to-count populations from recent immigrants may be less likely to want to fill out census forms if they think they will be asked to prove they are citizens. Not counting these people would have huge consequences for political representation and federal dollars. “The census determines how some $800 billion in federal spending is divided every year between funds for transportation, aid for housing and healthcare, and more,” Kriston Capps reports for CityLab.

Whether or not the question will appear remains an open question, while a district court found many "administrative law violations by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross," Capps reports, this is not the last legal word on the matter. "Whether the 2020 count features a question about citizenship will likely fall to the U.S. Supreme Court—maybe even before an appeals court takes up the case, if the Department of Justice gets its way," Capps reports.

For majority Latino communities this could mean disinvestment on a massive scale. "For James Diossa, the young Latino mayor of Central Falls, Rhode Island—a Providence suburb of 19,000 residents with a Latinx population upward of 70 percent—anxiety over the 2020 census is far from abstract," Capps writes. Mayors are looking for ways to help a program federal administrators seem dead set on sabotaging.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019 in CityLab

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