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house Bill H.R. 1320

Should the 2020 Census Ask About Immigration Status?

Argument in favor

The Census needs to ask about immigration status in order to ensure that it’s accurately reflecting the U.S. population. Asking about immigration status will also ensure that Census data can be used to help policymakers craft effective legislation to address illegal immigration.

JTJ's Opinion
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04/22/2019
If we are not counting citizens then there is no point to having a census.
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SneakyPete's Opinion
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04/22/2019
👿 Again the SAME QUESTION and Again MY ANSWER IS “YES” 👿 The Census needs to ask about immigration status in order to ensure that it’s accurately reflecting the U.S. population. The Democrats are objecting and fighting the “Citizenship Question” for two key 🔑 issues in their mindsets. These being: 1). The “Assignments” of Congressional Representatives 2). The “Appropriating” of Federal Funding to their home districts. Asking about immigration status will also ensure that the Census data can be used to help policymakers craft effective legislation to address illegal immigration. SneakyPete. 👍🏻👍🏻YES🇺🇸YES👍🏻👍🏻. 4*22*19
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D's Opinion
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04/22/2019
Yes: Mr Mueller- You have a whole pile of Russian Communists to investigate right in front of you- The DNC Party- Justice is literately blind.
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Argument opposed

Including a question about immigration status will chill participation in the 2020 Census by immigrants, both legal and illegal. This will cause the Census to under- and miscount the U.S. population, leading to mis-allocation of federal resources and House seats.

Susan's Opinion
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04/22/2019
No no no no no The constitution says all people must be counted not all citizens. A citizenship question would greatly affect the count and underrepresent our population. Just another Republican attempt to deny certain states representation.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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04/22/2019
You cannot weaponize the census!! This is a suppression tactic and it’s already well understood that a question like this damages the reliability of data by skewing the result. Latinos and immigrants fear citizenship information won’t be protected despite law. There is a profound distrust about whether any citizenship information in the census would be kept private. Nationally, only 35% of immigrants and 31% of Latinos trusted the Trump administration to protect this information and not share it with other federal agencies — an issue that has already arisen in debates about the citizenship question. Trust in the Trump administration already at a all time low. A citizenship question lowers willingness to respond to the census. This will lead to substantial undercounts. Adding a citizenship question would hurt the quality of information that Americans provide. After all, internal census analyses have already estimated that the citizenship question could decrease response rates among the population by 6-10 percent. The U.S. Constitution requires a census every 10 years of all persons living in the country for the purpose of apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives (Article I, sec. 2, clause 3) among the states. The Constitution explicitly requires an “actual Enumeration” of “all persons,” imposing on the federal government the duty to count the “whole number of persons in each State.” Both Republican and Democratic administrations, through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), have confirmed unequivocally that the Constitution requires a count of all persons living in the United States on Census Day, regardless of citizenship status. Deliberately sabotaging the census is a violation of the constitution and the oath of office sworn by Congress members. You MUST vote no.
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fdbetancor's Opinion
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04/22/2019
This would decrease census participation and lead to inaccurate results, thus invalidating the whole point of the census.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
    IntroducedFebruary 22nd, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 1320?

This bill — the Census Accuracy Act of 2019 — would amend the decennial U.S. Census to ensure that respondents are given a question regarding whether they’re citizens, foreign nationals in the country lawfully, or foreign nationals in the country illegally. Additionally, this bill would require that those who answer that they’re in aliens in the U.S. lawfully identify the federal program or law that granted them the status they’re claiming.

Impact

Census respondents; 2020 Census; and the Census Bureau.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1320

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Steve King (R-IA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to improve the quality of the data collected by the U.S. Census, particularly with regard to the count of unauthorized immigrants in the country. When he introduced this bill in the 115th Congress in July 2017, Rep. King said in a press release:

“For the last 15 years, I have heard the same figure advanced by Amnesty proponents regarding the number of illegal aliens in the country. I do not believe that the static number they offer is accurate as it seems more like a well-established talking point. In fact, I believe the number of illegal aliens in the country is far higher than many suppose. The Census should be better equipped to measure this number so that policy makers can take appropriate actions to reduce the deleterious impact illegal immigration has on our nation.”

In a House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice hearing on the 2020 census citizenship question on June 8, 2018, Rep. King argued that counting unauthorized immigrants would leave areas with fewer unauthorized immigrants with less representation:

“Providing additional representatives for areas of the country with many illegal aliens will leave other parts of the country inhabited by a relatively smaller number of illegal aliens with fewer representatives.”

However, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) disagreed with Rep. King’s claim, saying, “This assertion seems like a thinly veiled pretext to exclude immigrants and racial minorities from being counted literally and figuratively.”

Testifying before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice on June 8, 2018, Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, criticized this and other efforts to add a citizenship question to the Census as an attempt to decrease participation by certain groups:

“[S]ome members of Congress have sought over the past several decades to exclude people who are not legal residents, or even all non-citizens, from the [Census] apportionment base. Beyond the dubious constitutionality of such proposals, it would be nearly impossible to determine the legal status of all residents with any accuracy, in order to exclude some from the state population totals used for congressional apportionment and possibly for congressional redistricting. And while no proposals have suggested removing noncitizens or undocumented residents from the census numbers used to allocate more than $800 billion annually in federal program funds — any effort to determine legal status would jeopardize the accuracy of the entire census, leaving public, private, and nonprofit decision-makers with bad information for all purposes. Chairman King’s ‘Census Accuracy Act of 2017’ does not explicitly aim to affect the apportionment base, but simply to “document” the number of immigrants and their legal status. But he has made his ultimate goal clear by releasing a video on December 22, 2017 urging President Trump to support the exclusion of undocumented residents from the census-derived state population totals used for congressional apportionment.”

However, at the same committee hearing, Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that advocates reduced immigration, pushed back on Gupta’s claims, stating that “[t]here is no evidence that reinstating this question on the census would reduce response rates.” Camarota also noted that the citizenship question had appeared on previous Censuses.

The Census Project adds that asking questions about citizenship and immigration could deter many immigrants (both legal and illegal) from responding to the Census, thereby hurting the response rate and accuracy of the 2020 Census. The Census Project adds that making additions to the 2020 Census would also disrupt preparations at a pivotal point in the decennial cycle.

The Insights Association raises the possibility that a citizenship question could violate respondents’ Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. It also points out that past administrations, most notably President George H.W. Bush’s Justice Department, agreed that the 14th Amendment and the apportionment clause require a decennial census of all U.S. residents, including noncitizens and unauthorized immigrants, all of whom should be counted. Writing for the Brookings Institution, Andrew Reamer and Audrey Singer express the same concern:

“[The Constitution] requires a count of all ‘persons residing in the United States, not just citizens or legal residents. The framers intended the census to be an inclusive count and so avoided the term ‘citizen’ used elsewhere throughout the Constitution.”

GovTrack contends that an undercount in the 2020 Census “could produce second-order effects,” including decreased Congressional representation in states with higher numbers of unauthorized immigrants. The states that’d be most affected would be mostly blue states: California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois. Florida, a swing state, and Texas, a red state, would also be affected. Regardless of the state or states affected, improper Congressional representation would be unconstitutional, since the Constitution requires non-citizen residents to count toward congressional apportionment.

Advocates of including a citizenship question in the Census argue that the citizenship question is merely a way of finding out an important piece of information about American residents, just the as the existing questions about name, sex, race, and homeownership status do. In his memo announcing the citizenship question, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wrote:

“Asking the citizenship question of 100 percent of the population gives each respondent the opportunity to provide an answer. This may eliminate the need for the Census Bureau to have to impute an answer for millions of people. For the approximately 90 percent of the population who are citizens, this question is no additional imposition. And for the approximately 70 percent of non-citizens who already answer this question accurately on the ACS, the question is no additional imposition since Census responses by law may only be used anonymously and for statistical purposes.”

In a written statement, Dept. of Justice spokeswoman Kelly Laco argued that reinstating a citizenship question on the 2020 Census would be a “legal and reasonable decision” by the federal government. However, ACLU attorney Dale Ho argued that the evidence presented at a district court hearing on the citizenship question revealed that the Trump administration introduced the citizenship question in an effort to reduce Census participation by minorities, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations.

This bill has eight Republican cosponsors in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, it had 30 Republican cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of NoteFrom 1890 to 1950, the Census routinely asked all U.S. residents citizenship questions. In 1960, the issue of citizenship was only indirectly addressed. From 1970 to 2000, only a sample of the U.S. population was asked about citizenship. Finally, from 2000 onward, citizenship and all other “long form” questions were moved to the annual American Community Survey (ACS), which is sent to just under four million people in the U.S. each year.

New York, along with 17 other states, several cities, and civil rights groups, sued the Commerce Dept. — which oversees the Census Bureau — in order to block the proposed citizenship question. In mid-January 2019, a U.S. District Judge ordered the Trump administration to halt its plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. However, the administration is pressuring the Supreme Court to review the case and decide whether a question about citizenship can be included in the 2020 Census. In a closed-door meeting in mid-February 2019, the Court voted to fast-track review the ruling — the first time it’s done so since 2004. Arguments in the case are scheduled for the week of April 22.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / liveslow)

AKA

Census Accuracy Act of 2019

Official Title

To amend title 13, United States Code, to require that any questionnaire used in determining the decennial census of population shall contain an option for respondents to indicate citizenship status or lawful presence in the United States, and for other purposes.

    If we are not counting citizens then there is no point to having a census.
    Like (35)
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    No no no no no The constitution says all people must be counted not all citizens. A citizenship question would greatly affect the count and underrepresent our population. Just another Republican attempt to deny certain states representation.
    Like (209)
    Follow
    Share
    You cannot weaponize the census!! This is a suppression tactic and it’s already well understood that a question like this damages the reliability of data by skewing the result. Latinos and immigrants fear citizenship information won’t be protected despite law. There is a profound distrust about whether any citizenship information in the census would be kept private. Nationally, only 35% of immigrants and 31% of Latinos trusted the Trump administration to protect this information and not share it with other federal agencies — an issue that has already arisen in debates about the citizenship question. Trust in the Trump administration already at a all time low. A citizenship question lowers willingness to respond to the census. This will lead to substantial undercounts. Adding a citizenship question would hurt the quality of information that Americans provide. After all, internal census analyses have already estimated that the citizenship question could decrease response rates among the population by 6-10 percent. The U.S. Constitution requires a census every 10 years of all persons living in the country for the purpose of apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives (Article I, sec. 2, clause 3) among the states. The Constitution explicitly requires an “actual Enumeration” of “all persons,” imposing on the federal government the duty to count the “whole number of persons in each State.” Both Republican and Democratic administrations, through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), have confirmed unequivocally that the Constitution requires a count of all persons living in the United States on Census Day, regardless of citizenship status. Deliberately sabotaging the census is a violation of the constitution and the oath of office sworn by Congress members. You MUST vote no.
    Like (128)
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    This would decrease census participation and lead to inaccurate results, thus invalidating the whole point of the census.
    Like (101)
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    HELL NO!!!! Then entire reason, as established by our Founders, is to get an accurate count of every human being residing within our borders!
    Like (71)
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    Including a question about immigration status will chill participation in the 2020 Census by immigrants, both legal and illegal. This will cause the Census to under- and miscount the U.S. population, leading to mis-allocation of federal resources and House seats.
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    I suppose it depends upon whether or not you want any kind of accuracy. I, for one will not answer a question like this and I was born in the great state of Illinois. The purpose of the census is to allocate resources and representation by populace. It is not to determine citizenship or who gets to vote. There is absolutely no point in having a census if it is not accurate. To quote Jason, the Census should not be weaponized.
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    This question was dropped off the form decades ago. Anyone who watched the hearings where Wilbur Ross tried to lie about his part in getting this question reinstated knows how he lied
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    King is a disgrace to this state. This information is irrelevant to the census and is just to spread fear and gerrymandering
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    NO. The citizenship question undermines the efficacy of the census. There will be a number of individuals that will fear participation and a number that will abstain in solidarity/on principle. It is needlessly political and will create a barrier for the numerous organizations and entities that use census information to better serve the community.
    Like (28)
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    👿 Again the SAME QUESTION and Again MY ANSWER IS “YES” 👿 The Census needs to ask about immigration status in order to ensure that it’s accurately reflecting the U.S. population. The Democrats are objecting and fighting the “Citizenship Question” for two key 🔑 issues in their mindsets. These being: 1). The “Assignments” of Congressional Representatives 2). The “Appropriating” of Federal Funding to their home districts. Asking about immigration status will also ensure that the Census data can be used to help policymakers craft effective legislation to address illegal immigration. SneakyPete. 👍🏻👍🏻YES🇺🇸YES👍🏻👍🏻. 4*22*19
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    Census is simply a head count. No other criteria needed.
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    Yes: Mr Mueller- You have a whole pile of Russian Communists to investigate right in front of you- The DNC Party- Justice is literately blind.
    Like (19)
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    Not that they'll be honest about it, but it should be included.
    Like (18)
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    The Census determines the number of Delegates apportioned to a given state by the Electoral College. If we count non-citizens (as we currently do) we give a massively unfair election advantage to states with high non-citizen populations. This suppresses the voters in states with low non-citizen populations. Counting non-citizens is true and very real voter suppression.
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    Pretty sure this came up within the past few months, in a separate proposal. The answer is still no. A census is designed to gather valuable logistic info about our country using the most accurate info possible. If immigrants (of whatever status) are afraid of answering questions, this will literally invalidate the whole purpose of the census. We may as well just guess answers to our most important questions for the next ten years.
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    The first three problems with this bill are: 1) It’s authored by Steven King, 2) It’s authored by Steven King, 3) It’s authored by Steven King. This bill has nothing to do with obtaining an accurate census count. Instead it has everything to do with the advancement of King’s white nationalist/white supremacy beliefs and values.
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    Illegals should not be counted as citizens.
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    Lol some people are calling us who agree bigoted . don’t see why dems always rush to defend illegals more than they do with legal citizens . shows how much they care about the country and it’s illegal immigration problem
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    No, bigoted assholes. What’s it going to take to make it clear to you??
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