Census 2020: United States adds controversial citizenship question

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Last month a coalition of 19 state attorneys general signed onto a letter to the Department of Commerce urging the question be rejected.

Becerra and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla wrote in an op-ed Monday that Ross is not just wrong but that the query is unconstitutional: "Including a citizenship question on the 2020 census is not just a bad idea-it is illegal". The department said the citizenship information would help the Justice Department enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights and helps prevent the unlawful dilution of the vote on the basis of race.

Any problems with the numbers in the Census, which is mandated under the USA constitution, will reverberate for at least 10 years until the next big count. It helps determine the number of seats each state has in the House and how federal money is distributed to local communities.

"This is a question that's been included in every census since 1965 with the exception of 2010, when it was removed", said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

But California isn't the only state that has opposed the citizenship question. Citizenship questions have also been included on prior decennial censuses.

The Trump administration's plan to include a controversial question about citizenship status to the upcoming 2020 census is sparking a backlash from civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers.

"This untimely, unnecessary, and untested citizenship question will disrupt planning at a critical point, undermine years of painstaking preparation, and increase costs significantly, putting a successful, accurate count at risk", she said.




California has already filed suit to block the question.

In a statement, the Commerce Department pointed to previous census questions as justification for the shift. Researchers said respondents had specific fears about sharing confidential information with researchers, and attributed it to moves from the Trump administration to target immigrants and people of color such as the Muslim travel ban, the dismantling of DACA, and the empowerment of ICE agents.

The question has not been on the full decennial census since the 1950s, but does appear on the yearly American Community Survey administered by the Census Bureau to give a fuller picture of life in America and the population. The 2020 U.S. Census will add a question about citizenship status, a move that brought swift condemnation from Democrats who said it would intimidate immigrants and discourage them from participating.

"Counting the number of US citizens in the country should be a high priority of the census, and the only way to get an accurate count is to add a question about citizenship to the census itself", Cotton said.

President Donald Trump has made a hardline approach to unauthorised immigrants a signature feature of his administration, consistent with his own campaign pledges.

Commerce says that between 1820 and 1950, nearly every decennial census asked a question on citizenship in some form.

A question about citizenship status on the 2020 United States census has been criticised by Democrats who say it will intimidate immigrants and discourage them from participating.

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