The US Commerce Department says the 2020 census will include a citizenship question.
The US Department of Commerce, which oversees the Census Bureau, said late on Monday it would bring back the citizenship question, in defiance of warnings that doing so would deter millions of people from participating in the count.
While the Commerce Department insisted in its announcement that the citizenship question-which was removed from the census in 1950-is meant to "help enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA)", experts quickly dismissed this justification as a "farce", given the Trump administration's systemic and ongoing attack on voting rights nationwide. The Census is meant to count the entire population, not just United States citizens.
"After a thorough review of the legal, program, and policy considerations, as well as numerous discussions with the Census Bureau leadership and interested stakeholders, I have determined that reinstatement of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census is necessary to provide complete and accurate data in response to the [Department of Justice] request", said Mr Ross. "Secretary Ross determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government goal outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts". Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who now leads the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said the organization will also sue to stop it.
The move invited immediate backlash from Congressional lawmakers, mayors and civil rights activists, who said that the move was created to undercount immigrants and minorities, the USA Today reported.
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Shellby Falco, 17, said there was a threat of violence previous year at her school, Medford High School, although nothing resulted.
The census results are the basis for each state's number of seats in the U.S. House as well as its share of federal funding.
"The stakes are too high for a failed 2020 Census, and we will not sit idly by as those with malice intentions seek to thwart a fair and accurate count of immigrants, Latinos and all Americans", the organization said in a statement. In his memorandum to the Census Bureau, Mr Ross wrote: "For the approximately 90 per cent of the population who are citizens, this question is no additional imposition". California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed suit against the administration Monday night. They all told me if Census added question about USA citizenship none of them would respond to it. We have no idea how the untested insertion of a citizenship question will affect public cooperation. GOP Sens. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ted Cruz of Texas had sent a letter to the Commerce Department asking Ross to add the question. They've held press conferences and made it a point to question Ross about his thinking during appearance at congressional hearings.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the new citizenship question on the 2020 census could cause an undercount in population numbers, and therefore have an effect on the funding granted to everything from schools to homeland security money for neighborhoods and natural disasters and beyond.
The U.S Census Bureau now counts the total number of people in the country every 10 years, not the citizens.