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There Might Not Be A Citizenship Question On The 2020 Census But DHS Will Give The Census Citizenship Info

After President Donald Trump’s efforts to have a citizenship question on the 2020 census was stopped by the Supreme Court last June, he is now looking to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for help. According to a report from CNN, DHS will be providing citizenship information with the U.S. Census Bureau through administrative records collected in previous years. The share data will be used to make an estimate of the number of citizens and non-citizens in the U.S., including the number of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

The information that is being shared with the Census bureau includes “a person’s alien identification number, country of birth and date of naturalization or naturalization application,” the AP reports. Other data will come from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Customs and Border Protection that will be linked to other shared demographic data. The DHS-Census agreement reads that the citizen information will be used for no longer than two years and then promptly destroyed. 

There is much significance going into the once-a-decade headcount that will determine how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is allocated across the country, as well as how many congressional seats each state gets. 

While the move to share citizenship data between agencies may raise some eyebrows, the Trump administration is defending the move in regards to voting protections. But that’s not how everyone sees it. 

Andrea Senteno, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), one of the civil rights groups challenging President Trump’s order in federal court in Maryland, told the AP that the collected data may be wrong or outdated. “The information out there over whether someone is a non-citizen or what type of immigrant status they may be is going to have a lot of holes in it,” Senteno told the AP

This is a potential issue that DHS acknowledges and said in its agreement document that “linking records between datasets is not likely to be 100% accurate.” There are fears that if this data is compiled to produce statistics, people won’t have the ability to correct mistakes as an individual’s citizenship status can change often over a period of time. 

The data that is being compiled from administrative records is also facing legal challenges. According to CNN, a lawsuit, which the government is asking to be dismissed, is being presented that accuses Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of being “motivated by a racially discriminatory scheme to reduce Latino political representation and increase the overrepresentation of non-Latino Whites, thereby advantaging White voters at Latino voters’ expense.” 

Despite President Trump not getting his citizen question on the 2020 Census, Latino leaders told Congress on Thursday that there are still worries from communities about it. 

President Trump’s efforts to get a citizenship question on the 2020 Census may have been stopped but the fears and anxiety of it still showing up are well alive in many Latino communities across the U.S. At a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Thursday, civil leaders voiced their concerns that census counts may be inaccurate. 

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, blames that on the “failed debacle” of Trump’s proposed citizenship question. He says that while the question was ultimately blocked, there is still fear in the Latino community that information about their legal status will still show up that may add to inaccurate tallies.

“They believe there will be a citizenship question on the form despite its absence and many fear how the data will be used,” Vargas said at the hearing focused on reaching hard-to-count communities in the 2020 census. “This is exacerbated by a hostile environment toward immigrants propagated by this administration.”

Vargas points to the prior census count in 2010 that he says “undercounted 1.5 percent of the Latino population, including some 400,000 children under 5 years old.” That census count made the determination that the US Latino population was  50.5 million. Today, that number is estimated to be close to 60 million people. 

“The 2020 Census is likely to be the largest and most difficult enumeration ever,” said Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, told the AP. “There are no do-overs. We need to get it right the first time.”

The march to the 2020 Census will begin in rural and tribal communities in northern Alaska in no less than two weeks. The rest of the US can start participating by mid-March.

READ: A San Francisco Mural Is Honoring An Undocumented Guatemalan Immigrant Who Was Unarmed And Killed By Police

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