aside The US Census Should Not List The Question, “Are You A Citizen?”

2010 Census Alaska Native Poster

The US Constitution clearly declares that the US government is required to count everyone in the USA.  Every 10 years, the Census Bureau gathers information about each individual like gender, age, race and income. It is not supposed to indicate anything to distinguish between citizens and non- citizens. It is well understood that that the US Census Bureau is absolutely barred from sharing the collected data with other governmental departments.

So, the question is why would the republican President Donald Trump’s administration add the following question for the first time since 1950, “Are you a US citizen?” The obvious answer is that this inquiry on the census questionnaire will guarantee that many will not fill out the form, which will depress the count of the population in mostly Democratic led states or cities where more non-citizens (most legally) are located.

Virtually every former Census official of the past have countered against taking the step.

As soon as the US public was advised that this controversial question was included in the census forms on the 27th of March 2018, several states took steps to initiate lawsuits to block its inclusion. 

The US Department of Commerce is in charge of managing the US Census. Its Secretary Wilbur Ross is justifying the addition of this question, by indicating that the additional data will be used to better enforce voting rights laws. And I believe in the tooth fairy! Non-citizens can’t vote even if they are legal residents, period.

A proper count is crucially important for the following reasons:

1.) Our founding fathers decided the number of seats in the U.S. House is determined by the number of people in each state. The official count is used to draw voting districts at the national, state and local levels.

2.) The federal government bases its decisions on how much funding or grants to give states, counties and cities by looking at the detailed census data. That translates into monies for updating schools, adding schools, building new hospitals, repairing broken roads, and maintaining public utilities like water, sewage and electricity.

3.) Private companies also make major decisions based on what the census says, like where to build grocery stores, new housing developments, any new business.

4.) Ii is also used by academics for research projects.

2010 Census – “Children Count Too”

Here is the rest of the story…

On March 27, 2018, Katy Steinmetz of Time penned the following report, “The Debate Over a New Citizenship Question Isn’t the First Census Fight. Here’s Why the Count Is Controversial”

Excerpts:

“On Tuesday (3/27/18), the Department of Commerce announced that a question on citizenship would be added to the 2020 census, which that agency oversees. While that choice might seem bureaucratic on the surface, it’s causing an uproar, as many other questions about census data have before it.”

“The Trump Administration says the question — which was last asked on the census in 1950 — will be used to better enforce voting rights laws, but critics have argued that it will lead to lower response rates, because some immigrants fear the information could end up in the hands of law enforcement. Filing a lawsuit over the move, the California attorney general described it as an “attempt to bully” immigrant communities.”

“Tensions have swirled around the census since it began in 1790. “Whatever the hot-button issue of the time is,” says University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee history professor Margo Anderson, “gets tangled up in the census.” That’s because the regular counting of the population has never been an academic exercise, she says. The census is a basis for deciding how to apportion political power, as well as how to dole out billions in federal funds. “Every 10 years we shuffle the deck,” Anderson says, “and take power away from areas of the country that are not growing as fast as others.”

“Some fights about the census are about how and what information is collected. Other snafus are focused on how that information is used once it’s in the U.S. Census Bureau’s filing cabinets. There is dignity in being counted and officially acknowledged by the government, especially for historically marginalized communities, but there is also exposure. “People want to be identified, their characteristics captured and reported,” Anderson says, “but they also don’t want to be targeted.”

2010 Census NASCAR

“Here are 5 examples of past moments, many highlighted by Anderson, that show how incendiary a survey can be.”

The census launched with the three-fifths compromise

“The main purpose of the census is collecting data that will determine how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives. One of the concerns about the new citizenship question, for example, is that if immigrants avoid declaring themselves en masse, that could lead to states losing or gaining seats based on an inaccurate population count. (A dozen seats shifted between states following the census in 2010.)”

“This is also why, in 1787, there was debate among the framers of the Constitution about whether enslaved people should be counted on the census. Southern states, hoping for more representation in Congress, wanted them to be tallied. Northern states did not, with some arguing that if slaveholders insisted slaves were property, not people, it followed that they shouldn’t be counted alongside constituents. This led to the notorious compromise that each slave would be counted as three-fifths of a person — a dehumanizing decision undone by the passage of the 13th Amendment.”

Census data was used to track Japanese-Americans

“Anderson was one of the researchers who discovered evidence that the U.S. Census Bureau gave the U.S. Secret Service information about the whereabouts of some Japanese-Americans during World War II, at a time when many such individuals were being rounded up and put in internment camps. Normally, the bureau is forbidden from releasing data about specific individuals, but legislation passed during wartime suspended those rules. (More information on the Bureau’s actions during this time is available on Anderson’s website.)”

“In the years following 9/11, the Census Bureau gave the Department of Homeland Security less detailed information about the places where Arab Americans live, compiling data about how many Iraqis and Egyptians live in certain ZIP codes. Even though names and addresses weren’t revealed and security officials said the information would not be used for law enforcement, advocacy groups balked and outcry ensued.”

Women weren’t allowed to be heads of households

“When the first census was taken, the government wasn’t concerned with counting everyone equally. While enslaved people counted as three-fifths of a person, American Indians weren’t counted at all. (This fascinating chart shows how racial categories have evolved over the centuries.) Among those who did have a box were “free white females.” Yet while some women got some recognition at the beginning, critics have still accused the survey of being chauvinist.”

“As the second wave of feminism took off, women challenged the Census Bureau’s practice of asking who the “head” of each household is. The notion that every family must have a “head” is a patriarchal one, they suggested, and the census-takers long presumed that this role would be held by a man.”

“Married women who lived with their husbands were essentially “disqualified” in early years. And as late as 1970, forms had a box for “wife of head,” yet no option for “husband of head.” As criticism mounted, officials decided to drop the concept from the census in 1980, Anderson explains. They replaced it with a more objective question about “the household member” who had their name on the lease or the mortgage.”

Democrats and Republicans clashed over “the undercount”

“The Supreme Court weighed in on a census controversy in 1999 that Anderson expects to be on people’s minds as the arguments over the citizenship question continue.”

“The count of the census is never perfect, and it was discovered that some 4 million people had not been counted in the 1990 survey, according to the New York Times. Many of these individuals were members of racial minorities living in urban centers — who tend to vote Democratic — and Democrats argued that in order to get a more accurate count, the Census Bureau should use a statistical sampling method rather than trying to enumerate every individual.”

“Republicans argued that this amounted to a “statistical scheme” and a traditional head count must be used when deciding how many seats each state should be apportioned in the House. And the Court agreed, saying that federal law barred the use of sampling in that arena, though the justices suggested sampling could be used for other census-related activities like redistricting at the state level.”

Questions about sexual orientation and gender identity are out

“As it stands, the 2020 census will not be asking questions about people’s sexual orientations and gender identities, despite calls from advocates to treat those demographics just like race and income.”

Link to entire report: The Debate Over a New Citizenship Question Isn’t the First Census

7 comments

  1. I am no fan of this, but at the same time I am not quite sure I buy the idea that this will only hurt Democratic states. Yes, New York, New Mexico, and California will be hurt, and those are Democratic states. But Texas, Florida, and Arizona will also be hurt, and all three states voted for Candidate Trump.

    • Dear Brendan Birth,

      It is my opinion only, but the White House has a fixation against the State of California which represents everything the far right hates. It is not by chance that California was the first state out of the box to file a suit VS. the US government to challenge the Census form including this controversial question.

      The negative is that this kind of action will simply make it more difficult for any republican to prevail in states like California, New Jersey and New York.

      This may even make states like Florida and Arizona turn more purple. This will probably be struck down in the courts which means republicans just shot themselves in the foot.

      Thanks a million for the reference material.

      Hugs, Gronda

  2. Dear Mz. Gronda,

    While the accurate count of population will be somewhat suppressed by this action, and is an important issue, IMO it is not the full intent of the current occupants of the White House. I, with full knowledge of the racial bias of the tRump cartel, will suggest that, much like the interment of the citizens of Japanese ancestry during WWII who were tracked with the help from the census data, the primary intent is to locate and deport or displace folks that do not meet the administrations rules of whiteness. Perhaps we should all start a movement that decides that each and every one of us identifies as Hispanic on these forms. If the majority of people are suddenly found to be Hispanic, they will have an impossible task finding those they want to “Weed Out” to “Make America Great Again”!

    • Dear Crustyolemothman,

      What will happen because folks aren’t very trusting of this government, any one with immigrants in the family, even if legal, will not fill out this form which means the census numbers will be off a lot.

      The US constitution declares that everyone in the USA needs to be counted. The White House added this question about citizenship to deliberately discourage many not to fill it out.

      I am believing that the courts will rule against the president on this one.

      Hugs, Gronda

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