Local View: Citizenship question threatens Census accuracy

A man waves an American flag

A man waves an American flag

"I'm disappointed that the Census Bureau is caving to the Trump administration's attempt to inject its anti-immigrant agenda into the constitutionally-mandated count of every person residing in the United States", county Supervisor Ken Yeager said in a prepared statement earlier this week.

The intimidating citizenship question will surely put off people already uneasy about answering the census and will lead to further undercounting of minority populations, experts say.

Secondly, the Constitution says the paramount goal of the census is to count every single person who lives in the United States, and the courts have ruled that this includes non-citizens.

"I find that the need for accurate citizenship data and the limited burden that the reinstatement of the citizenship question would impose outweigh fears about a potentially lower response rate", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wrote in a memo to his subordinates.

By Constitutional requirement, the census is taken at the beginning of every decade. They argue that asking about citizenship on the census would undermine the goal of counting every person because it would discourage people from participating.

"But most Americans have never heard of Title 13", says Shapiro. "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.

The current kerfuffle over whether respondents to the 2020 U.S. Census should be asked their citizenship status serves as a sterling example of people demanding we adhere strictly to the Constitution, except when we don't want to.

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Really? Sounds like a smokescreen, especially when you consider it was the Justice Department that initially asked the Commerce Department, which oversees the census, to add the citizenship question.

The question, she said in her daily briefing, will provide "data that's necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters" and "help us better comply with the Voting Rights Act".

That question is are you a citizen or not? That year, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that older adults will edge out children in population size: People age 65 and over are expected to number 78 million, while children under age 18 will number 76.4 million.

Additional criticism of the citizenship question came from attorneys general of 12 predominantly Democratic states.

In a last-minute move that would give Republicans an advantage in maintaining control of the House of Representatives, the Trump administration is reinstating a question about citizenship to the 2020 census.

Rep. Meng called the decision to include an immigration-status question on the 2020 Census "deeply troubling and reckless". An estimated 2.1 percent of the African-American and 1.5 percent of the Hispanic population were missed during the last Census. Not so, says the president's press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

For instance, the suit claims the federal government has decreased resources and manpower for the 2020 Census and "cancelled crucial, pre-Census field tests and is rushing to digitize the Census without adequate cybersecurity protections, thus undermining public confidence in the privacy of Census data" the press release said.

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