Citizenship Question to Be Reinstated in 2020 Census

March 27, 2018 Updated: March 27, 2018

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced on March 26 that a question about citizenship will be reinstated in the 2020 census.

The question is crucial for determining the distribution of congressional seats, government aid, and the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The citizenship data from the new survey results can have wide-ranging impacts on future elections.

The citizenship question was asked on the census from 1790 to 1950. In December last year, the Department of Justice asked Ross to reinstate it.

In response, Ross initiated a comprehensive review led by the Census Bureau. That review resulted in the announcement that the census will again ask respondents whether they are U.S. citizens.

Epoch Times Photo
United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross greets other cabinet members at the East Room of the White House in Washington on Oct. 12, 2017. (Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)

“This is one of Trump’s most important accomplishments as president,” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach told Breitbart News on March 26. “This is right up there with Neil Gorsuch being appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.”

“It allows a sovereign nation to know how many citizens it has,” Kobach added. “That’s the craziest part of our census since 1950. Now we will have an actual count of citizens. That’s one of the most basic things a sovereign nation should be able to do, along with enforcing its borders.”

Proponents of open borders and liberal politicians opposed the addition of the question, arguing that it would reduce response rates and lead to inaccurate data. But the Census Bureau already asks immigration questions on several of its largest population surveys, which are used to estimate unemployment, poverty rates, wages, and health insurance coverage.

“If asking about citizenship significantly reduced data quality by lowering response rates, then a good deal of information published monthly and annually by the federal government, based on these surveys, would already be compromised,” wrote Steven Camarota, for the Center of Immigration Studies.

Ross said that the new question will be phrased the same way as the current citizenship question on the American Community Survey (PDF) which is currently sent to 1 in 6 American households.

Epoch Times Photo
Question from the 2018 American Community Survey. (Screenshot/Public Domain)

Kobach urged Ross to add the question back to the survey in the months leading up to the decision, arguing that the votes of legal citizens are diluted by temporary visitors and illegal aliens.

“Right now, congressional districts are drawn up simply based on the number of warm bodies in each district. Not only are legal aliens counted, but illegal aliens are counted, too,” Kobach wrote.

“Think of it this way,” he wrote. “There are about 710,000 people in each congressional district. But if half of the district is made up of illegal aliens, then there are only 355,000 citizens in the district. The value of each citizen’s vote in such a district is twice as high.”


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