What’s the Problem?
As part of the 2020 census, the Trump Administration plans to include a detailed question about each respondent’s citizenship. This question is likely to deter many people in households with an immigrant from responding to the questionnaire at all, out of fear that their answers could invite investigation by immigration authorities. Thus, the question is likely to result in significant under-counting of the population, especially in states with a significant immigrant presence – that is, in many blue or blue-leaning states. The consequences of this under-counting could be severe. The Census Bureau is seeking public comment on the census question on or before Tuesday, August 7. Voice your opposition to the question now using the link below.
Under-counting of the population in blue states would artificially depress the power of blue states in both the House of Representatives and in Presidential elections. The number of representatives each state sends to Congress is based on that state’s share of the nation’s population, so under-counting in blue states would result in some Congressional seats being improperly taken from blue states and granted to red states. Under-counting of some groups would also distort geographic boundary-drawing in the next round of redistricting within states. While the redistricting process varies from state to state, it is always based in part on the geographic distribution of the state’s population.
Under-counting in blue states would also unfairly diminish their voice in Presidential elections. The number of Electoral College votes awarded to a state is partly based on the number of its Congressional representatives. The census question on immigration status is yet another effort by the Trump Administration to undermine the fairness of our elections.
Further, population figures collected by the census form the basis for distribution of more than $800 billion a year in federal funds. States use many of these dollars to support social safety-net programs, including healthcare, education, housing, and economic development. Under-counting the population of blue states would result in disproportionate allocation of these funds to red states.
Yet another concern is that the Administration might in fact use census information in its anti-immigrant campaign. While census data is supposed to be used only in anonymous form, the Administration has shown no compunction about violating constitutional and statutory requirements. It is not a promising sign that, as recently released communications among high-level Administration officials demonstrate, it has lied about its purpose in adding the question.
The Constitution requires the federal government to gather an accurate count of the nation’s population every ten years. Census data are heavily used by government, businesses, and analysts alike for a wide variety of purposes. Numerous users of census data oppose the immigration question out of concern that it will badly skew census results. Add your voice to theirs. Speak out against inclusion of the immigration question on the 2020 census.
]What Can You Do to Fix the Problem?
The easiest thing to do is to submit your comments to the Census Bureau. You can do it online at http://cqrcengage.com/censuscounts2020/app/act-on-a-regulation?0&engagementId=484734.
Proposed script: I oppose inclusion of any question about immigration status in the 2020 census questionnaire. Any such question is likely to result in an inaccurate count and subsequent distortion in the allocation of voting representation and the distribution of government funds.
Note that your comment will be posted publicly in the Federal Register, as will your name, city, state, and ZIP (but not email address).