Citizenship Question Threatens 2020 Census

Washington, DC — On Monday night, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it would be adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The census, as required by the Constitution, calls for an accurate accounting of the number of people in this country, regardless of their citizenship status Last week, when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) asked him about the plans to add this question and whether the question had been tested and studied over a multi-year period the way other census questions are. Secretary Ross said only that the citizenship question was under review, while acknowledging that he had heard concerns about the question’s impact on accuracy and suppression of responses. Rep. Chu released the following statement:

“I’m incredibly concerned by the inclusion of an untested citizenship question whose sole impact will be to suppress participation in the 2020 census. The census is essential for ensuring fair and accurate representation and distribution of government resources. But by including a question on citizenship, which is not required by the Constitution, the Trump Administration is exploiting the fear of immigrant communities who are already reticent to divulge personal information to the federal government. The census is not about who should be in the country. It’s about understanding who is currently in the country and it should not be treated as just another weapon in Trump’s anti-immigrant arsenal. It’s too important for our schools, roads, hospitals, and communities that we have an accurate reporting. It’s also concerning that this question was apparently rushed into the census, without undergoing the usual testing that other questions do. Suppression of responses risks California being undercounted in the census, costing the country’s most-populous state a seat in Congress. I’m encouraged by Attorney General Becerra’s legal challenge and I hope to see this problematic question struck from the census before it can distort our representative government into one that ignores immigrants and communities of color. And if the Administration decides to go forwards with this question, I am committed to using the legislative process to stop them and preserve the integrity of this census.”