Asking about citizenship status on the census would harm immigrant communities for decades to come.
The goal of the census is to collect an accurate count of residents. In March 2018, the Trump-Pence administration said it would add a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census. Experts worried that doing so would scare many immigrants from responding. The effect would be an undercount of immigrant communities, which could skew their political representation and cause them to lose out on federal funding, including for health care programs.
In a decision that could wind up at the U.S. Supreme Court, a January 2019 ruling blocks the additional question — saying that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross exceeded his authority under federal law when he decided to add the citizenship question to the 2020 Census.
Census data helps the government determine where to disperse federal tax dollars for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Title X, and other vital health care programs.Planned Parenthood Action Fund
The Commerce Department and Census Bureau faced six lawsuits from states, cities and groups that want the citizenship question off — including a suit that alleged the addition was motivated by discrimination and would result in less political power in places where many immigrants live. The January 2019 ruling that blocked the question indicated suspicion of the administration’s motivations, stating: "The court can… infer from the various ways in which Secretary Ross and his aides acted like people with something to hide that they did have something to hide."USA Today
Federal law blocks undocumented immigrants from Medicaid and bans them from buying insurance on the ACA Marketplace. Direct barriers like these and fear of deportation for themselves and their loved ones can drive immigrants into the shadows.Planned Parenthood Action Fund
A citizenship question has not been on the U.S. census since 1950.
Code Switch, NPR
Asking about citizenship on the census targets immigrants.
The Trump-Pence administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies have created a climate of fear among immigrants, who may avoid participating just to stay under the radar.
The Trump administration is shamelessly weaponizing the census to wage its war on communities of color, immigrants and the poor.”
NY ACLU Executive Director
During a public comment period that ended in early August, many respondents called on the administration to drop its plans to add the question.Reuters