MN Joins California Suit Against Census Citizenship Question

Border Patrol agents apprehend illegal immigrants near the US border with Mexico in the Rio Grande Valley Sector near McAllen Texas. – AFP

Opponents of a Census question about citizenship status say it could further discourage immigrants from participating in the count, especially when they are already fearful of how information could be used against them.

A citizenship question was first added in the 1890 census, during a period of intense political debate over immigration, and it was removed after the 1950 census.

"The goal of the census is to count every person living in the United States once, only once and in the right place", said Ron Jarmin, who is performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau.

The citizenship question isn't the only hurdle the nation faces in getting the most accurate census count possible. But if states decide to go that route, they will need census data that are complete, not simply a representative sample based on a smaller survey; thus, we have the new question on the 2020 census.

By Constitutional requirement, the census is taken at the beginning of every decade.

"What's more frightening about this Census count, more than in the past, is the rhetoric from the Trump administration", Baker said after the press conference. As California sues the federal government over the words, some in Idaho worry the question will leave out a portion of Gem State residents.

Moreover, if asking about citizenship is a deterrent to participation by illegal immigrants, then what about the existing census question that asks whether respondents are "of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin" - the only ethnic group specifically called out.

Asking people to answer whether or not they are US citizens on the census-a question that hasn't been included since 1950-could have far-reaching effects.

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On December 12, 2017, DOJ requested that the Census Bureau reinstate a citizenship question on the decennial census to provide census block level citizenship voting age population (CVAP) data that is not now available from government surveys.

"In so doing, Ross and Sessions explicitly tied the collection of 2020 Census information to federal law enforcement", says Brookings's Robert Shapiro.

The Donald Trump campaign already is capitalizing on the citizenship question.

And while the U.S. Census is under the control of the executive branch through the Commerce Department, don't be surprised if the courts back the challengers.

IL is among a dozen states planning to sue the administration to get the question removed from the census. It is a giant civic engagement project that allows people to proclaim that they are residents of this great land and, by virtue of the Constitution, which mandates it, ensures that they will be fairly represented in Congress. People tend to have a good feeling about participating in it.

Without testing properly ahead of time, we won't know the potential consequences of this change until it may be too late to address them.

The Census Bureau announced last week that the citizenship question will be included in the next census, though Congress still can - and should - nix the idea.

As a result of the 2010 Census, Washington state, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Georgia and SC gained one seat each in the House while Texas gained four seats and Florida two seats.This did not occur without outcome.

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