Following a petition by 20 Democratic Attorneys General to oppose Republican efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, and the withdrawal of Trump’s pick to lead the 2020 Census for defending lopsided elections, the message to the Trump administration is clear: don’t mess with the U.S. Census.
Republican attacks on the Census could undermine our democracy. Adding a citizenship question could allow Republicans to take away funding and legislative seats from local communities in order to help rig elections in Republicans’ favor. It would also stoke fear in communities of color, invade Americans’ privacy, and drive more families into the shadows.
We need a fair and accurate census to ensure everyone has the opportunity to make their voice heard.
Including a citizenship question would lead to a population undercount, disproportionately harming states and cities with large immigrant communities.
CNN: Census citizenship question under legal review
“Opponents say the question would likely lead to lower Census completion by undocumented immigrants and could cause communities to be under-counted, with far reaching consequences for the next decade and beyond. Among the uses for Census data is determining where federal funds are spent and how congressional districts are drawn.”
The Washington Post: Potential citizenship question in 2020 Census could shift power to rural America
“A switch to using eligible voters would effectively eliminate millions of Texans for the purposes of redistricting, leading to fewer urban districts and more rural ones. That would shift the balance of power away from heavily Hispanic areas, and likely more heavily Democratic areas, where more noncitizens and children live.
“‘All of the districts with noncitizens in them and all of the districts with kids in them would have less representation,’ said Andrew Beveridge, a demographer at Queens College in New York, who called the idea the ‘holy grail’ for Republicans seeking to maintain a partisan advantage.”
New York Times: Critics Say Questions About Citizenship Could Wreck Chances for an Accurate Census
“Even small variations can have large political consequences. In 1997, Republicans vigorously fought a proposal to statistically adjust census results to address undercounts and overcounts, in no small part because their own study suggested the tweaks could affect election results in as many as 26 of the 435 House seats.”
Other actions from the Trump administration could suppress the count of minorities.
Wall Street Journal: Census Change to Race, Ethnicity Questions Shelved by Trump Administration Delay
“Backers of the changes said the new question format better reflects how people talk about race and ethnicity, and would boost the accuracy of the Census count. Critics saw the changes as exercises in so-called identity politics, by asking Americans to further categorize themselves along racial and ethnic lines.”
The Washington Post: Non-citizens won’t be hired as census-takers in 2020, staff is told
“In recent decennial counts, door-to-door census takers could be legal permanent residents or non-citizens with a work visa and a bilingual skill that no available citizen possessed. Such employees made up a tiny percentage of hires in the last count, but have been seen as crucial to reaching hard-to-count immigrant communities whose members might not understand or trust the process, and where response rates are typically lower than the general population.”
Instead of focusing on adequately counting everyone in the U.S., the Trump administration wants to know more about the origins of white Americans.
NPR: 2020 Census Will Ask White People More About Their Ethnicities
“The Census Bureau says people who mark ‘white’ as their race will be asked to write in their origins in countries such as Germany. Some white people say they're not sure how to answer that question.”
States and cities rely on an accurate census to serve American families.
Sunlight Foundation: American cities depend on federal data
“To say that federal data is important to city governments is an understatement. Federal data provides city staff with basic information about their residents, including the city’s population, income levels, race and ethnicity, and employment. And in doing so it informs many aspects of cities’ work.”
Brookings: The 2020 Census may be wildly inaccurate—and it matters more than you think
“Without an accurate Census, many states and cities will be denied the full funding they deserve and need, and the federal government will have to fly blind for a decade across a range of important areas.”
Democrats are fighting to protect fair representation.
Associated Press: State attorneys general: No citizenship question on census
“A coalition of state attorneys general on Monday urged the U.S. Department of Commerce to not add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, saying it could lower participation among immigrants and cause a population undercount.”
The Hill: 5 Dem senators ask administration not to include citizenship question on census
“‘The inclusion of a question on citizenship threatens to undermine the accuracy of the Census as a whole, and given this administration’s rhetoric and actions relating to immigrants and minority groups, the DOJ request is deeply troubling,’ the senators wrote in a letter addressed to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.”