Friday, 20 April, 2018

Fabiola Santiago: Intimidating census question will make many nervous

Census-Citizenship U.S. Department of Commerce Announces Reinstatement of Citizenship Question to the 2020 Decennial Census
Judith Alexander | 01 April, 2018, 01:00

On March 26, 2018, at the request of the Department of Justice (DOJ), U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the 2020 Census would include a question about respondents' citizenship status.

The presidential administration's decision to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census, already the target of lawsuits and broad criticism by statistics authorities, drew a new opponent Friday: the experts who advise the Census Bureau itself.

The law was changed in 1978 to prohibit the Census Bureau from sharing information with other government agencies for a period of 72 years after it collects personal data.

Ross admitted that the question's inclusion might have an impact on some responses, but "the value of more complete and accurate data derived from surveying the entire population outweighs such concerns". Anything that undermines this mission - to count every breathing person - violates the intent of the Founding Fathers. Thus, the Trump administration wants to go nationwide with a census questionnaire that won't have been vetted to ascertain the ramifications.

"This is not a common-sense addition to the census, in fact it is a risky, alarming and deeply political move, opposed by the American Sociological Association, civil rights groups, six former Census Bureau directors from both Republican and Democratic administrations, more than 161 mayors, 19 state Attorneys General and Members of Congress", the representative wrote.

The US census matters to every American, regardless of race, ethnicity, immigration status or party affiliation.

Democrats have come out against the change, calling it unfair and intimidating because the census counts all people living in the country, not just citizens.

From 1970 to 2000, the question was included only in the long-form section of the census survey, sent to a portion of USA households. The Justice Department says it would use the data to help enforce the Voting Rights Act.

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The Ocean State is the only scene of a test run for the national Census to be conducted in 2020.

That question is are you a citizen or not?

The distribution of U.S. House of Representatives seats is based on population. Adding a citizenship question will disrupt the planning for the next Census by increasing costs and adversely affecting the accuracy.

The census, which is mandated under the U.S. Constitution and takes place every 10 years, counts every resident in the United States. Also, until 1950, it was a standard question. An estimated 2.1 percent of the African-American and 1.5 percent of the Hispanic population were missed during the last Census. One of the Census Bureau's biggest challenges in obtaining a count of all residents is non-response.

Adding to detractors' suspicions is the fact that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was among those urging the president to add the citizenship question.

Sanders said that in 2010 the citizenship question was removed.

"In a very transparent way, [I] talked to them about our role as federal employees and servants of the people of the United States to ensure that we continue to do a good census regardless of the conditions that we do it under out in the community", he said.

"Secretary Ross determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government goal outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts", it said.

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