Update 2/15/19: A federal court ruled in the ACLU’s favor and struck down the citizenship question, which hasn’t appeared on a full census for 70 years – but now, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Trump administration’s appeal. Help power the fight against this corrupt Ministry of Fear.
Action: Make a public comment against the “citizenship question” on the 2020 census
- For the government site, comment here, (which only has 38 signers!) or
- For the ACLU site, comment here (which has 23,488 signers as of 7:30 pm, 3/14).
- DEADLINE: FRIDAY 3/15, 11:59 pm EST.
Sample comments and background material below. It’s very important that if you’re using an “example” comment to get started, try to alter it to reflect your own voice. Multiple identical copies will be counted all together as one.
(This video gives a good overview of the census. – It’s getting rowdy in Congress over this. Check out the AOC and MSNBC videos near the bottom!)
Comment: The Commerce Department must remove the citizenship question from the 2020 census. Congress now has ample proof that this question was added by Chris Kobach and Steve Bannon as a way to rig the census against our vital and growing Latino community. The question, along with Trump’s active antipathy towards minorities, is aimed at terrorizing immigrant communities, which undermines the purpose of the census, the intent of the Constitution and discriminates against immigrants.
Comment: (ACLU) The inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Decennial Census form is specifically designed to antagonize and marginalize immigrant communities. Immigrant participation will decrease dramatically – resulting in less political representation, reduced access to federal programs, and a severely compromised census that would fail to accomplish its purpose of counting each and every person in the United States.
Comment: The Commerce Department must remove the citizenship question from the 2020 census. It was added illegally in an attempt to subvert the purpose of the Constitutional requirement to count every person residing within our borders.
Comment: (ACLU) I strongly urge the Commerce Department to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 census. The citizenship question will depress participation among vulnerable communities that are already fearful of answering government surveys, according to the Census Bureau’s own research. Not only will it lower participation rates result in the disenfranchisement of immigrant communities, but it will undermine the purpose of the census itself – which, according to the Constitution, is to count each and every person in the United States, citizens and noncitizens alike.
The public should not be asked to answer – or pay for – a census that does not meet scientifically sound standards in order to achieve partisan political goals. The addition of the citizenship question is bad for the census, bad for our communities, and bad for this country.
Basics: Experts agree that a citizenship question will dramatically reduce the participation of immigrant communities, stunting their growing political influence and depriving them of economic benefits in an underhanded attack by the Trump administration.
The census is required by the Constitution every 10 years and it must count all people in the U.S. – adults and children alike. It doesn’t specify, however, that citizens and non-citizens must be counted separately. That’s up to lawmakers. The final numbers determine funding for items like education, hospitals and transportation, redraw district maps and determine how many congress members states get. Obviously, low response rates will hurt states with high immigrant populations (like CA and TX) the most.
Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from sharing information. Even the FBI and other government entities do not have the legal right to access this information. Census records were used to assist in the WWII incarceration of Japanese-Americans, and rules have been changed to prevent that from happening again. In 1952, a rule requiring a 72-year waiting period before the public can access the records was established. That’s why sites like Ancestry.com can only provide public census records up to the 1940 census. The 1950 census won’t be released until April 1, 2022.
Proponents of the citizenship question say it’s a simple “yes” or “no” answer, not a description of immigration status and it would be federal violation for Trump to use the census to round up all “non-citizens”. However, his anti-immigration animus has been so clear and hostile that no one, immigrants, US-born Latinos, or the rest of us, believes that he and his morally flexible and deeply racist henchmen will respect the guardrails of law. And therein lies the problem…
The citizenship question is being specifically included to terrorize immigrant communities, which undermines the purpose of the census, the intent of the Constitution and discriminates against immigrants.
Deeper Dive…Sarah Sanders is “inaccurate”…
Past History: This Vox article has a great rundown of evolution of the census. Also NPR’s “Face Check: Has Citizenship been a standard Census Question?”
- In 1950, the Census form asks what foreign country a person was born in and was he naturalized. It was the last time all U.S. households were asked this question.
- In 1960, only one’s place of birth was required. If someone was born outside the US, they wanted to know what language was spoken in the home before coming here.
- There was no census in 1965. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the citizenship question – “This is a question that’s been included in every census since 1965.”
- Starting in 1970, the Census started using demographic “sampling” to collect data.
- There are long and short census forms. Out of every 6 households, one got the long form, with the question “Is this person a CITIZEN of the United States?” along with additional questions about everyone living in their household. The remaining 5 got the short form, which just asked name, relationship, age, sex, Hispanic origin, race, marital status and whether the home is owned or rented.
- In 2000, the government traded the long form for a smaller “American Community Survey“, which goes out to only 2.5% of American households every year. It included the long form questions, including the one on citizenship. The government can use those “sampling”-based results to estimate our population but they can’t be used for allotting Congression seats.
- In 2010, Sarah Sanders said the citizenship question was removed. However, there wasn’t a long form that year, being replaced by an American Community Survey with just 10 questions.
- There is no mechanism in the U.S. Census to “fix” undercounts.
Ghosts of Steve Bannon and Chris Kobach!
- Technical/Schmechnical: The administration is defending the citizenship question for the 2020 census, by stating that it “technically” existed on every census except the 2010 one. Critics say that the Department of Commerce is resurrecting something that hasn’t been used for a “mandatory” survey since 1950. Both are right in some respects, but both are missing the bigger technicality elephant in the room. Rep. AOC brought up that the proposed 2020 question is not a “restoration” of the original 1950 question. If a new or materially revised question is proposed, Secretary Ross was required to report the issue to Congress ahead of any changes, not after the matter was settled. We’re betting the administration is as careful with paperwork accuracy as Sarah Sanders is with words.
- Where, oh, where are those 3 million illegal voters and who started this mess? Well, for any anti-immigrant action, one should be looking in the crawl space for Steve Bannon and Chris Kobach. Kobach hated the idea that non-citizens got counted for congressional apportionment services and emails prove that Kobach and Ross set in motion what has been described as a “cynical search to justify a pre-ordained result“. Kobach left the matter of getting his question installed in the 2020 census to some mashup between ex-A.G. Jeff Sessions and Ross, details being hard to understand from the barely-breathing Ross.
- Further communications prove that Ross and Sessions cooked up an argument that the question was necessary in order to enforce the Voting Rights Act, specifically to find out where minority voters lived and if there was any mixing with minority non-citizens. The DOJ letter on the citizenship question stated “to fully enforce those requirements, (Voting Rights Act) the Department needs a reliable calculation of the citizen voting-age population in localities where voting right violation are alleged or suspected.” How would that even work? Voting rights violations BY VOTERS are extremely rare.
Screwing over CA and TX: Actual voting rights advocates have figured out that Ross and Sessions’s true goal is to allow the federal government to apportion congressional seats based, not on total head count, but just on how many “citizens” are willing to be counted. The citizenship question could literally shift the nation’s balance of political power from cities to more rural communities over the next decade and give Republicans a new advantage in drawing electoral boundaries.
Belief becomes reality: Although the Trump administration has argued in court that there’s no proof that the citizenship question would depress response rates, history shows that even without the citizenship question, census takers have trouble getting immigrants to talk to them.
- In 2000, the Clinton adminstration stopped all immigration raids during census sweeps, but workers had to post signs in immigrant communities that read, “NO INS. NO FBI. NO CIA. NO IRS,” to encourage participation.
- In 2010, ICE continued to conduct raids during census surveys, but the Census Bureau made a huge promotional push on Spanish-language to reach out to Latino communities on how important it was for them to fill out.
- With the current administration putting together denaturalization boards, even legal immigrants will be leary of census takers.