The Trump administration’s efforts to include a question about the respondents’ citizenship on the 2020 census will be considered by the Supreme Court this week, NBC News reports. The administration insists that the question is necessary to enforce civil rights laws, while immigration rights advocates claim the question will make immigrants reluctant to answer, leading to inaccurate counts.
The Constitution mandates that every 10 years, the government conduct a census of all of the people living in the United States on April 1 of the year in which the census is taken. Officially, the reason is to determine the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives. However, over the centuries, the process has evolved to include how federal money is spent through various allocations, community grants, and so on.
For these reasons, it’s considered a matter of great importance, especially for under-served, poor, and minority communities, to get an accurate count.
However, that accuracy may be threatened say the 18 states and cities that have sued the Trump administration if the 2020 census includes a question about citizenship.
As Investors Business Daily reports, up until 1950, census forms asked about the citizenship of the respondents. However, in censuses since 1950, that question has either been eliminated entirely or included only on the “long form,” a longer questionnaire that is only sent to a smaller sample of households.
Just out: 2018 Census population estimates for counties. Fastest growth in the South and West, in outer suburbs of large metros. pic.twitter.com/Djz3GUoSNu
— Jed Kolko (@JedKolko) April 18, 2019
However, the Trump administration requested that the question be included on all 2020 census forms, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department is responsible for conducting the census, has already confirmed that the question will be included.
In response, 18 states and cities sued the Trump administration to have the question removed, saying that immigrants will be less likely to answer the question for fear of repercussions. That would, in turn, lead to an inaccurate count, which could then spell trouble for federal spending on certain communities.
Immigrant-rights activist Theo Oshiro says via Yahoo News that there is no understating how devastating that would be for certain places in the United States.
“The impact would be dire.”
The Trump administration, however, claims that the question is necessary in order to correctly administration various civil rights laws. Specifically, the Justice Department claims that an accurate count of households with immigrants is necessary for adjudicating the Voting Rights Act, as Christian Adams, a former attorney who brought voting rights cases before various courts, explains to The Hill.
The Supreme Court is expected to return its ruling on the matter by June.