2020 Census Citizenship Question Sparks Controversy

Haley Mickey, News Editor

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For the first time in over fifty years, the United States Census will ask every American household a question regarding citizenship.  The Department of Justice requested this addition as a way to collect data about voting age Americans to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.  However, this new question has created controversy amongst many Americans. Although it is illegal for the Census Bureau to share census results with immigration agencies or law enforcement, many people fear that immigrants may avoid responding to the census due to fear of deportation.  This is a problem, because if immigrants avoid answering the census, the immigrant population could be undercounted and therefore, many states would have inaccurate data regarding their population. This means these states could be severely underfunded, or have reductions in their number of federal congressional seats.

The attorneys general from seventeen states: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington have all agreed to join the lawsuit.  Six cities: Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, Providence, San Francisco, and Seattle; along with Washington D.C. have also joined the suit. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the lawsuit, stated, “This is really just an effort to punish places like New York that welcome immigrants, that are accommodating to immigrants and embrace the American tradition of open arms for all.”  Schneiderman’s home state of New York could potentially suffer a loss of electoral seats and billions of dollars of federal funds due to a misrepresentation of its population size. Many civil rights groups, such as the NAACP, have also spoken out against the addition of this new question, some even claiming that the Department of Justice is actively attempting to misrepresent the Hispanic community.  Tom Saenz, the president of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, stated, ““I think the main motivation is to secure an undercount…Texas is a very red state. They know that is not going to be the case for very much longer.” Supporters of the inclusion of this question argue that its addition will not cause as great of a change as many people expect, but for now, the new citizenship question still continues to spark political controversy.


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The Student News Site of Carterville High School
2020 Census Citizenship Question Sparks Controversy