Booker, Senators Urge Commerce Department to Follow Law, Protect Confidentiality of Census Responses

For Immediate Release
December 6, 2018

Letter comes on heels of alarming reports that Trump Administration was discussing possibility of violating confidentiality of census info

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today urged the Commerce Department to protect the confidentiality of personal census data, as required by federal law. The letter – similar to one that Booker and Schatz sent last week to the Department of Justice – comes on the heels of alarming reports that the Trump Administration has discussed the possibility of violating the confidentiality of the information it receives from the decennial survey.

“The integrity and viability of the 2020 Census requires that you provide the public a forceful reassurance that their census data cannot and will not be shared with law enforcement or for any other non-statistical purpose,” the Senators wrote in a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “We urge you to immediately reaffirm the confidentiality protections of the Census Act and to request written confirmation of the 2010 DOJ Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) opinion regarding the relationship between the Census Act and the USA Patriot Act from the Attorney General.”

This summer, the Senators pressed Ross on the process leading to the controversial decision to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 Census, after a discrepancy emerged following Ross’s testimony in front of Congress.

Booker and Schatz are also authors of a bill introduced earlier this year to ensure adequate funding for the 2020 census, called the Census Funding Cap Adjustment Act (CFCA). The decennial census has historically undercounted communities of color, low-income Americans, and immigrant communities and the CFCA would provide the resources necessary to ensure an accurate count that appropriately reflects these communities.

Full text of the letter is here.