Census Stakeholders React to Addition of a Citizenship Question to the Decennial Census

Late on March 26, the Department of Commerce announced that the 2020 census will add a citizenship question, as requested by the Department of Justice late in 2017.

A variety of Census Project stakeholders have already responded to the decision:

  • “The civil rights community is speaking with a clear, united voice: this decision is wrong for our communities, our democracy, and our country, and we will fight to overturn it.” – The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • “As scientists, our members are concerned about the negative effect an untested citizenship question would have on decennial census response rates and, ultimately, the validity of the decennial data. Based on the experience of other surveys, population scientists have observed that responses to citizenship questions tend to be of low quality. Further, we have seen firsthand how adding questions to any survey inherently increases costs as well.” – Population Association of America (PAA)
  • The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, also hosted a joint telephone press briefing
  • “This decision circumvents the Census Bureau’s routine research and testing processes to ensure potential questions do not affect the quality of responses and could compromise one of the most valuable data resources the government produces.” – Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA)
  • “By deciding to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census at the 11th hour, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has further undermined the integrity of one of the most preeminent scientific agencies in the world, further jeopardizing the accuracy of the 2020 Census and wasting millions of taxpayer dollars in the process… The addition of any question at this moment in time would have catastrophic consequences for Latinos and all Americans.” – National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) Education Fund
  • “Without testing and with fewer respondents, the decennial headcount likely will be less accurate, less valuable and unnecessarily expensive… To ensure accuracy, the census requires the highest possible representation of our population. Every subsequent survey and study that intends to be statistically representative of the U.S. population will be built on decennial data, and any inaccuracies will be felt for at least a decade.” – The Insights Association
  • “The decision by Secretary Wilbur Ross to add a citizenship question for the 2020 Census is untimely, unnecessary, and unwise. A citizenship question is likely [to] have a devastating impact on obtaining an accurate count for communities like Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.” – Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC
  • “Adding a citizenship question without a testing opportunity in a contemporary, census-like environment will run the risk of introducing serious undercounts for many population groups in the 2020 Census.” – Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS)
  • “The inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census is a political calculation designed to undermine our Constitution and undercount children, people of color, and other vulnerable populations.” – NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
  • “Secretary Ross is wrong. The decision to include a citizenship status question will make a complete population count even more difficult to achieve. The Census is far too important to communities of color to be comprised.” – National Urban League

Stakeholders have also posted to our Census Project recently on the citizenship question:

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