Citizenship is a question worth asking, but probably not by Trump



April 1, 2018 - 11:00 PM

Copies of the 2010 Census forms, shown here, will be different from the ones in 2020. The 2020 U.S. Census will add a question about citizenship status, a move that brought swift condemnation from Democrats who said it would intimidate immigrants and discourage them from participating.

The Trump administration’s decision to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census smacks of an effort to intimidate immigrants and reduce the congressional representation of districts with heavy non-citizen populations. That said, it’s not altogether a bad question to ask, along with others that help demographers provide more accurate statistical breakdowns of the U.S. population.

Because of President Donald Trump’s record on immigration, the citizenship question is now a hot button issue. Critics charge the question is motivated by the president’s desire to uproot or de-legitimize non-citizens. They believe the question would discourage census participation and increase fears by undocumented immigrants — who must also be counted — that it’s a government ploy to hunt them down.

The Census Bureau is banned by law from sharing respondents’ answers with anyone. “Not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency,” the bureau says. Since California and other states are filing legal challenges, the courts probably will decide whether the question stays in the 2020 questionnaire.

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