Demos Issues Statement Urging Department of Commerce to Reject Last-Minute Addition of Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census Questionnaire

Release Date: 
August 8, 2018

Today, in a public comment addressed to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Demos strongly objects to the addition of an untested question on citizenship status to the 2020 decennial Census. Brenda Wright, Senior Advisor of Legal Strategies at Demos, says the proposed question will have a detrimental impact on the accuracy of the census count and ultimately hinder fair political representation of people of color in the upcoming decade.

“We believe in an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy for all. An accurate census count is critical to ensure that all voices are heard and fairly represented in our democracy. Introducing a last-minute untested citizenship question inevitably will lower participation in the 2020 Census among communities that are already at greatest risk of being undercounted. Immigrant communities that are already being harassed and targeted by ICE will be distrustful of the purpose of such a question, and many will decline to respond at all, leaving out the voices and reducing the political power of black and brown communities throughout the country.

“We strongly urge the Department of Commerce to reconsider the addition of this question, as research shows it is not necessary for the proper performance of the Census Bureau’s functions and will impair the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected in the 2020 Census. Census Bureau officials themselves have even acknowledged the harm this will create and advised the Commerce Department against the addition of this question.

“The census is too important to allow it to be impaired by tactics that have blatantly political motives and zero scientific justification. If the Commerce Department does not rescind this question, Congress should step in and direct that it be removed from the 2020 Census.”

###