2020 Census to include citizenship question

The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

shutterstock image
 

In an important break with recent practice, the Department of Commerce announced March 26 plans to include a question on the 2020 census asking respondents about their U.S. citizenship.

In a letter to Commerce Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Karen Dunn Kelley, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he was directing the bureau to add the question in response to the Department of Justice’s December request to do so.

Submission of the final questions is due to Congress March 31.

The citizenship question has not appeared on decennial forms since 1950. In its request, DOJ cited the need to fully enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as to why the question should be reinstated.

The decision also follows the Trump-Pence campaign’s effort to fundraise off the possibility of adding the question, and comes after the bureau has mailed out forms without the question in Providence, R.I., as part of its critical 2018 dress rehearsal. The question will appear last on the 2020 forms.

Census data serves as the foundation for population — and business — data throughout the United States. It also influences nearly $700 billion in federal grants — which fund roads and infrastructure, education, health care, local police stations and more — as well as the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives for the next 10 years.

Census experts, hundreds of civil and human rights groups, 161 Republican and Democratic mayors, 19 state attorneys general and former Census directors from Republican and Democratic administrations opposed the citizenship question. They said it will lower response rates from minorities and, in turn, increase costs of a count that’s already run more than $3 billion over budget.

Ross said "there is limited empirical evidence to support [the] view" that a citizenship question will depress response rates.

"However, even if there is some impact on responses, the value of more complete and accurate data derived from surveying the entire population outweighs such concerns," he said.

California's attorney general Xavier Becerra announced that he intends to sue the administration over the addition of the citizenship question.

"Including the question is not just a bad idea — it is illegal," Becerra said late on March 26.

Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund, called the move “an affront to the federal government’s constitutional duty to carry out a complete count of the entire U.S. population.”

This is not the first move by the Trump administration that goes against recommendations for a more accurate count of minority populations. In January, Census opted not to follow through with plans to combine two questions on race and ethnicity into a single survey question. The bureau found minority populations were more likely to respond to a single combined question.

By Census's own estimates, the 2010 enumeration undercounted the Hispanic population by about 1.5 percent.

"The decision to include an untested, controversial question is disheartening. And the risk of a failed census just increased significantly," said Terri Ann Lowenthal, who has who has provided census oversight as a congressional aide, presidential transition team member and private consultant on four decennials. "I also am worried that public confidence in the integrity and safety of the census will plummet."

Public perception surrounding data privacy and the bureau’s ability to protect response data were identified by the Census Bureau as a “major concern” at its January quarterly program management review that threaten a successful count.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.