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2020 Census Citizenship Question Could Water Down Count, Critics Say

Image: 2020 Census Citizenship Question Could Water Down Count, Critics Say

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By    |   Wednesday, 07 March 2018 06:30 AM

A 2020 U.S. Census citizenship question could water down the population count and other important data, critics say, but federal officials say the information is needed to ensure voting accuracy.

Democrats are objecting to the question "Are you a United States Citizen?" on the census, claiming it’s an attempt to intimidate immigrants and grab electoral power grab, Fox News reported on Tuesday. And if some people avoid the census out of fear, they say, the results would be diluted.

Not so, according to Department of Justice attorney Arthur Gray, who asked the Census Bureau in December to include the question.

"The Department of Justice is committed to robust and evenhanded enforcement of the nation's civil rights laws and to free and fair elections for all Americans," Gray wrote in the letter posted on Bloomberg View. "… This data is critical to the department's enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act and its important protections against racial discrimination in voting.”

"To fully enforce those requirements, the department needs a reliable calculation of the citizen voting-age population in localities where voting rights violations are alleged or suspected."

The Trump administration has until the end of March to determine if the citizenship question should be included in other questions that go out to every citizen.

Fox News noted that the Census is used to determine the number of congressional seats allocated to each state for the next decade and the number of electoral votes available from each state.

Ira Mehlman, of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told Fox News that the question, once a staple census inquiry, is needed for a more accurate view of who is living in the United States.

"The census isn't just a decennial headcount," Mehlman said. "It is a snapshot of America – and we have good reason to know who is here."

Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in an opinion article on Bloomberg View that he believed asking the question was a bad idea.

"It's critical, then, that the 2020 census counts be accurate," Strain wrote. "A great way to decrease accuracy is to ask people completing the census survey if they are American citizens.”

"…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," Strain continued.

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A 2020 U.S. Census citizenship question could water down the population count and other important data, critics say, but federal officials say the information is needed to ensure voting accuracy.
2020 census, citizenship, question
418
2018-30-07
Wednesday, 07 March 2018 06:30 AM
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