Speed Reads

2020 Census

Texas could lose 3 congressional seats if the 2020 census asks about citizenship status

On Tuesday, 17 states, led by New York, plus seven cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors filed suit to block the Census Bureau and Commerce Department from including a question about respondents' citizenship on the 2020 census. Texas is not among the motley group of states in the suit — which includes Iowa and North Carolina as well as Massachusetts and Oregon — and it did not file its own lawsuit like California did. But Texas has a lot to lose from adding a citizenship question to the census, as The Texas Tribune explains:

An accurate census is critical to the state. It is used to determine how many representatives Texas is entitled to elect to Congress. And the Texas Legislature and local governments rely on the data to redraw corresponding political boundaries. ... Almost 5 million immigrants live in the state, and it's estimated that about two-thirds are noncitizens — legal permanent residents, immigrants with another form of legal status, or undocumented immigrants. Additionally, more than 1 million Texans who are U.S. citizens live with at least one family member who is undocumented. ...

The repercussions of an immigrant undercount in Texas could go as far as curtailing the state's projected gain of three congressional seats in Congress. Texas Hispanics — who make up a majority of the state's immigrant population — were behind 65 percent of the population growth that helped Texas gain four seats after the 2010 Census. Almost 700,000 immigrants — just about the number of people living in each congressional district — reside in Houston, where officials are worried about reaching immigrants who are "unsettled by recent actions and recent rhetoric." [The Texas Tribune]

"It's always hard to count immigrants, but this is really going to be a tough issue," Ryan Robinson, demographer for Austin, tells The Texas Tribune. If the 2020 census includes a question about citizenship status, "that would be the torpedo that sinks the boat." You can read more at The Texas Tribune.