US census shouldn’t ask about citizenship
The population count has to be accurate. Questions that scare immigrants and minority-group members would make it less so.
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There are many ways to illustrate the importance of the U.S. census, and one that should resonate strongly with conservatives is this: It is required by the Constitution. And right up front — Article 1, Section 2.
The Founding Fathers thought it was pretty important, and it is. For one thing, the census — which is designed to be a complete count of the U.S. population conducted every 10 years — determines how many seats in the House of Representatives are awarded to each state. The population counts produced by the census also help determine how hundreds of billions of federal dollars are distributed across states and localities, and influence the decisions of businesses and state and local governments. Problems with the 2020 census will be with us until at least the next count, 10 years later.
It’s critical, then, that the 2020 census counts be accurate. A great way to decrease accuracy is to ask people completing the census survey if they are American citizens. The Justice Department, unwisely, has formally asked the Census Bureau to include a citizenship question on the upcoming census questionnaire. The secretary of commerce should deny this request. If he doesn’t, Congress should step in.
Why? Given the anti-immigrant and anti-minority rhetoric from President Donald Trump and many on the political right, Hispanics, immigrants and members of minority groups probably start by being concerned about answering any survey questions. A citizenship question would only make this problem worse.