Census to include citizenship question

U.S. will reinstate question about citizenship in 2020 Census Commerce Dept

Ross noted the concerns about lower response rates, including from the Census Bureau itself, but said his department's own review "found that limited empirical evidence exists about whether adding a citizenship question would decrease response rates materially".

The controversial move was announced Monday night by the Commerce Department.

The Commerce Department made the announcement late Monday, saying the question would line up with the language used in the American Community Survey. Citizenship questions have also been included on prior decennial censuses.

He said that even if the citizenship question had an effect on responses, "the value of more complete and accurate data derived from surveying the entire population outweighs such concerns".

Specifically, federal officials claimed that the provisions would help prevent racial discrimination and "protect minority voting rights".

The Commerce Department claimed that having citizenship data at the census block level would ultimately provide "more effective enforcement" of voting rights law.

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The statement said that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross "determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government objective outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts".

The census figures determine the number of seats each state is allocated in the U.S. House of Representatives as well as how the federal government distributes hundreds of billions of dollars in funding for various programs. "The Census Act requires the list of decennial census questions be submitted to Congress no later than March 31, 2018".

Earlier in the day, Becerra co-authored a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed with California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in which they argued that the "truly insidious" citizenship question "would discourage noncitizens and their citizen family members from responding to the census, resulting in a less accurate population count".

"This decision comes at a time when we have seen xenophobic and anti-immigrant policy positions from this administration", organization president Kristen Clarke said in a statement.

Immigrants and those who live with immigrants are troubled by confidentiality and data-sharing aspects of the count, Mikelyn Meyers, a researcher at the Census Bureau's Center for Survey Measurement, told a meeting of the bureau's National Advisory Committee in November. "It could also decrease response rates from USA citizens who live in mixed-status households, and who might fear putting immigrant family members at risk through providing information to the government".

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