“Is this person a citizen of the United States?” This question may seem mundane to the average reader, but if put on the U.S. Census, it would negatively affect the veracity of the census. The Trump administration is currently fighting in the U.S. federal court system to add the citizenship question, a move of bigotry and inhumanity.
The U.S. Census should be a nonpartisan, institutional element of our democracy. Politicizing the questions will only hamper the strength of our republic.
The census determines how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes are apportioned to each state. Also of importance, the census’ population counts help inform the federal government what proportion of federal tax dollars should go to different states and local communities for Medicare, schools and other public services.
Boston officials estimated Massachusetts would lose about $2,400 in federal dollars each year for the next decade for every person who doesn’t fill out the census, according to a WBUR article.
Dozens of states, cities and other groups sued the Trump administration over proposing to put the citizenship question on the census on the grounds that it would reduce census participation among noncitizens and their households. This could cause undocumented immigrants and their relatives with legal status to be undercounted, leading to under-appropriation of resources.
There is also fear the federal government could use the citizenship information to find out where undocumented immigrants live for deportation purposes.
“Given our current political climate, we’re honestly feeling like everybody is going to be hard to count because what we see is another factor: deep distrust of government,” said Alexie Torres, head of the Massachusetts Census Equity Fund.
Democrats have criticized the motivation behind, and process of, adding the citizenship question. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez argued the Trump administration acted illegally by failing to provide Congress with all required reports related to the census.
If there is a Trump administration in the 2020s, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could use census information to uproot families of undocumented immigrants.
Even if President Trump claims he wouldn’t use the citizenship information for deportation purposes, would you believe him? We wouldn’t.
Thankfully, two federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration regarding the citizenship question. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hold a hearing for the case on April 23 to make the final judicial decision over its legality.
The census will have a strong impact on everyone’s lives for the next 10 years. It isn’t something to politicize for an administration’s personal benefit. The Supreme Court should recognize this and strike down this unnecessary and harmful question.