Trump administration to add citizenship question to US census


Trump administration to add citizenship question to US census

Meenakshi Jagadeesan

29 March 2018

The US Department of Commerce announced late Monday that the 2020 Census will include a question for respondents asking whether or not they are US citizens. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the action was taken in response to a request made by the Justice Department, which claimed it needed data on that question in order to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.

The pretext insults the intelligence, given that the Trump Justice Department and the Republican Party generally have sought to undermine and abolish the Voting Rights Act, rather than enforce it. But identifying the Justice Department as the source of the request is significant, since Attorney General Jeff Sessions is one of the leading advocates of stepped-up persecution of immigrants.

Asking about citizenship status serves the anti-immigrant witch-hunt in two ways: just posing the question will intimidate millions of immigrant families, whatever their own immigration status, if they have undocumented family members; and to the extent that any immigrants do respond, the information will be used as a blueprint for future enforcement actions, highlighting the neighborhoods and communities to be targeted for raids by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

This move has been widely criticized by immigrant rights advocates, demographers and experts including several former directors of the census, all of whom have warned of reduced response rates, and inaccurate answers, particularly given the climate of fear and mistrust pervading migrant communities.

A group of 14 states, led by the state of California, nearly all under Democratic control, immediately challenged the plan, filing a lawsuit in federal court on…

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