Census: A question of citizenship
“How many people live in the United States of America?” That shouldn’t be a political question, said Jill Filipovic in CNN.com, but the Trump administration has turned the U.S. Census into a “political football.” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced last week that the next countrywide population survey, in 2020, will ask respondents if they are U.S. citizens. This question hasn’t been on the census since 1950 for good reason: The Constitution requires a count of all residents; and a citizenship question will spook many illegal and legal immigrants into not taking part in the census, over fears ICE agents will come to drag them away. Those fears would create a “vast undercount” in immigrant-heavy areas. Since the census is used to determine how many House seats each state has, and how to allocate $675 billion in federal funding, those areas would suffer significantly. This is “just another way” for Trump to punish blue states and cities, said the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger in an editorial. At least 17 states and seven cities are suing, and the courts must block the president’s “census sabotage.”
“There is nothing wrong with asking about citizenship,” said Marc Thiessen in The Washington Post. Canada, Australia, and other U.S. allies do it. The Census Bureau has continued to ask about citizenship on smaller-scale “community surveys”—ones that still involve millions of people—in the years since 1950. Besides, if people don’t respond to the census, workers visit their house or ask their neighbors who lives there. So asking about citizenship “is not likely to produce inaccurate data.” Why should illegal immigrants have “fair representation in Congress”? asked Jonathan Tobin in NationalReview.com. That notion is inherently fraudulent. Once again, the Left is trying to “blur the distinction between citizens and noncitizens.”
It’s the Right’s agenda that’s the problem, said Jonathan Blitzer in The New Yorker. The census added the citizenship question at the suggestion of Justice Department official John Gore, who has been involved in Republican redistricting efforts in several states and in efforts to pass voter-ID laws designed to reduce voting by blacks and Hispanics. That agenda has been wholeheartedly embraced by President Trump, who nonsensically insists that 4 million undocumented immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton. Why change a census policy that’s been in place since 1950? The administration’s motives are utterly transparent.