Take Action Now to Stop the Census Citizenship Question!
Earlier this year, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that he had directed the Census Bureau to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 Census. The Department of Commerce is accepting public comments until August 7th on the use of a citizenship question in the U.S. Census. We need as many people as possible to respond with comments to oppose this decision. This will demonstrate there is a strong public voice that opposes this decision.
Learn more about the citizenship question and its effects
Read LWVUS’s statements on the citizenship question
Review our suggested talking points
The U.S. Constitution mandates a full and accurate count of all persons living in the United States every ten years, regardless of whether they are a citizen or not.
A citizenship question would reduce the likelihood of participation by individuals who are fearful of or feel threatened by the federal government. It is almost certain to depress response to the census from noncitizens and even immigrants who lawfully reside in the country.
An accurate count is necessary for fair representation in the political process, both for congressional apportionment and for congressional and legislative redistricting purposes.
An accurate count is necessary for responsible and efficient allocation of federal resources. Each individual not counted in the census could mean lost federal funding of up to $1,530 per person per year. In Minnesota alone, over $8.4 billion is distributed each year to job training centers, hospitals, and other vital community services.
An accurate count is necessary for responsible community and business development and planning. Census data is used to estimate population growth for demographic and economic reports not only by the government but also in the private sector.
Secretary Ross disregarded the advice and recommendations of Census officials, including six former Census Bureau directors from Republican and Democratic administrations, who stated in a January 26th letter to the Secretary, “We strongly believe that adding an untested question on citizenship status at this late point in the decennial planning process would put the accuracy of the enumeration and success of the census in all communities at grave risk.”
Despite incorrect claims to the contrary, a citizenship question is not necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act or other law. The Census Bureau has collected citizenship and immigration-related information through representative samples of the population like the American Community Survey. Courts have accepted that data as accurate estimates for the purposes of the VRA.
Earlier this year, Secretary Ross told the House Ways and Means Committee that the Justice Department requested the citizenship question to enforce the Voting Rights Act. But documents show that the request did not actually originate from the Department of Justice and were the result of anti-immigrant lobbying by Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, and Steve Bannon, a former White House strategist. On July 3, a federal judge found that Ross’s statements the Committee appeared untrue. The judge found that there is strong evidence that this question is being implemented in bad faith to undermine a constitutional mandate and fair political representation.
The Census Scientific Advisory Committee, a group of academics and scientists mandated to review the census by the Congress, also strongly disagrees with the inclusion of the question. “We hold the strong opinion that including citizenship in the 2020 census would be a serious mistake which would result in a substantial lowering of the response rate,” the committee has said.
Submit a comment (This is the most important part!)
Write a comment before August 7.
You comment should include:
A clear statement of opposition to the Commerce Secretary’s recommendation to include a citizenship question in the Census.
In your own words, a description of why you oppose the recommendation. It can be based on a single reason or several reasons. Feel free to borrow from the talking points and news articles above.
You can submit your comment two ways:
Mail your comment to to Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230.
Or email your comment to PRAcomments@doc.gov. You may submit attachments to electronic comments in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
Note: Your comment will not be confidential. All comments received are part of the public record. Personally identifiable information (e.g., name and address) may be publicly accessible. If you have concerns about personal information, we suggest you submit a comment by mail without including your return address or contact information.
Share this page
Share this page on social media to let your friends and followers know to comment in opposition of the citizenship question. Post a link to this page on your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media account. Please tag @LWVMinnesota on Twitter or "League of Women Voters Minnesota" on Facebook. You can also use the hashtag #SaveTheCensus.