The 2020 census will ask respondents if they are U.S. citizens for the first time since 1950, the Trump administration says

Wilbur Ross added a question to the 2020 census
(Image credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Late Monday, the Commerce Department said that at the request of the Justice Department, the 2020 U.S. census will include a question about citizenship for the first time since 1950. (The smaller annual American Community Survey has asked about citizenship since 2005.) Critics, including experts in the Census Bureau, have two major concerns with asking respondents about citizenship: That it will severely undercount the U.S. population, especially in areas with lots of non-citizen immigrants, and that it will skew the drawing of state and federal voting districts in a way that unfairly advantages Republicans.

The Justice Department said in December it wanted the citizenship question included to help enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, aimed at voting rights violations. "I find that the need for accurate citizenship data and the limited burden that the reinstatement of the citizenship question would impose outweigh fears about a potentially lower response rate," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in an eight-page memo.

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