Citizenship Question on the U.S. Census Hurts Immigrant Families

by Mikka Macdonald | August 3, 2018 3:19 pm

A Muslim ban. Family separation at the border. Ending Temporary Protected Status. And now, a question on the 2020 census asking each household a question about citizenship that is designed to scare and intimidate immigrant families and undercount communities of color.

The United States census is vitally important to the health of our democracy and functioning of our government. Held every ten years, the census is used to count every living person in the country. Its data provides the foundation for congressional maps and for the distribution of federal grants and resources. The census doesn’t determine who votes, but it does determine our country’s political representation by giving weight to how our votes are used.

But Trump’s Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross overstepped the Census Bureau’s experts by adding a last minute question about individual’s citizenship. Ross claimed that the question was necessary to enact the Voting Rights Act—but recently released documents show that it was Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state known for anti-immigrant policies,  who urged the inclusion of the question to further their anti-immigrant agenda.

The Trump Administration has proven time and time again that they are willing to risk our democracy and the efficiency of government programs in order to advance their anti-immigrant agenda. Unfortunately, this is not the first time the census has been used as a weapon against the people it was supposed to protect.

During World War II, the U.S. War Department weaponized census data to find and arrest Japanese Americans before incarcerating nearly 200,000 people of Japanese descent in a series of internment camps.

Now, Americans worry that it will give the Trump Administration an even stronger tool to chase down and attack immigrant communities. Since he took office, people of color have been targeted and criminalized at every turn. Anti-immigrant rhetoric has flourished, there has been an increase in hate crimes and ICE has terrorized communities of color across the country. The addition of a citizen question would only add fuel to the fire.

But people are taking a stand and fighting back. More than two dozen states and cities have filed a lawsuit pointing to the blatant racial bias embedded in the question. Grassroots groups have launched campaigns to educate people about the importance of the census and why this question will hurt generations to come. People and activists are taking to social media, calling their representatives, and taking to the streets to voice their concern and highlight how the question violates the U.S. constitution by disincentivizing residents from being counted.

And right now, you can add your voice.

The 2020 census survey questions are open for public comment until August 7th—and immigrant rights groups like FIRM are encouraging people to formally oppose the citizenship question.

Anyone is allowed to submit a comment, and it takes less than five minutes to complete. By doing so, you are voicing your opposition to the citizen question and calling on the Trump administration to make our democracy strong by counting every person.


Help us fight back to #SaveTheCensus. Click here to submit a public comment to oppose the Trump Administration’s inclusion of a citizen question on the 2020 census.

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