US Senate Bill Introduced to Prohibit Question on Citizenship in 2020 US Census

The following is a message from Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

A bill has been introduced in the United States Senate which would prohibit the recently added question on citizenship to be placed on the 2020 US Census.  The bill, S 2580, authored by Senator Menendez (D-NJ) has 15 co-sponsors-all Democrats.  The title of the bill  is “Every Person Counts Act”. The bill specifically proposes in Section 141(a) of title 13 of the United States Code, by inserting,” as necessary, except that the Secretary may not include any question or otherwise elicit any information regarding United States citizenship or immigration status”.

To read the bill see: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/2580/text.

The US Constitution has required a decennial census since 1790. Earlier this year, at the e request of the Justice Department, the Secretary of Commerce added a question on citizenship based on their assumption it will “help enforce” the Voting Rights Act .  Between 1820 and 1950 the US Census  asked a question about citizenship.  Since the 1950 census no citizenship question has been included in the decennial census.  The question will be the same as the one asked in the annual American Community Survey. Since 1790 the US census has counted both citizens and non-citizens This was added late in the sole testing stage so it will probably will not be included in the Rhode Island end-to-end survey.

There are several states which have filed suit against the Administration over the new question. For back ground information see the IAJGS Records Access Alert .

To access the previous postings on the US 2020 Census  see the IAJGS Records Access Alert archives at: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/private/records-access-alerts.  You must be registered to access the archives. To register for the IAJGS Records Access Alert go to: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/listinfo/records-access-alerts  You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized. It is required to include your organization affiliation (genealogy organization, etc.)

12 Comments

Why don’t these senators and states want this question ? Maybe it will show something they dn’t want to acknowledge.

Liked by 1 person

    I realize I’m not going to convince you, but:

    Because it results in undercounts. Immigrant and minority communities are already undercounted in the Census and this will make it worse. Even people who *are* here legally get nervous when asked questions about their status; immigration is a painstaking, nerve-wracking process.

    Regardless of anyone’s legal status, we need to know how many people are living here.

    Like

My guess would be that those senators and states are just fine with the idea that not everyone will be counted, and if “those people” choose to fail to answer the census all the better. Seems to me that this is a shortsighted view that does not acknowledge the relationship of the census numbers to the way Federal money is allocated.

Liked by 1 person

John and I have already decided that if the citizenship question is included, we will not answer. Yes, we are citizens. No, question has nothing to do with enforcing voting rights.

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    It seems to me that they could get the same results if they would have the question “Date Naturalized” as it was on previous census. Then people could just ignore it if it didn’t pertain to them or they didn’t want to answer. Maybe areas of heavy immigration need to have drives to ensure people understand they do not have to answer questions that they feel are offensive. I’m sure this happened many times in the past as a study of census where your family members answered sometimes show blanks or differing answers. It would still allow for an accurate count of the persons living in an area.

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Even if the census asks the question you probably won’t get accurate results if the responses my ancestors gave in earlier censuses are any indication.

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Isn’t one of the primary reasons for the census to provide an accurate count of citizens for determining the number of representatives a state should have (apportionment). How does this work if the census doesn’t specifically count citizens?

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    nigelhuffingwaysmythe May 2, 2018 at 11:27 am

    No, representation is not determined by the number of citizens; it’s determined by the entire population, because that’s the way the constitution wrote it. (OK, unamended it wanted the number of free persons, minus Indians, plus 3/5 of other persons, but it was still on the basis of population not citizenship.)

    Liked by 1 person

David Davenport May 2, 2018 at 3:25 pm

It is unfortunate that certain people are doing everything they can think of to prevent the President from carrying out his duties under the Constitution. HE is the executive branch. The census bureau is part of the executive branch, and it seems to me that any delay in preparing for the 2020 count, will needlessly delay the enumeration itself.

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    Actually adding this question at this late date (relative to the census preparation schedule) will more likely cause a delay. Not including the question is more efficient.

    Liked by 1 person

This is a tempest in a tea pot.

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Fred V Provoncha May 4, 2018 at 12:15 pm

These comments fascinate me. The word immigrant for example, where did illegal alien go? How do people who waited for years, and were admitted to citizenship (Shots, sponsors, swearing allegiance, etc) equate with someone who paid a drug cartel to smuggle them across the border? You want the drug cartel folks to vote? Why?

Liked by 1 person

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