Last month the Justice Department asked the Commerce Department to add a question about citizenship status to the 2020 Census. The current Census asks questions about age, race, sex, and property ownership – but not citizenship. The Trump administration says a question about citizenship status is crucial for protecting the Voting Rights Act.
Opponents of the addition say questions about citizenship status will scare away large segments of the population, leaving them unaccounted and overlooked. Lawyers for the Commerce Department have until the end of March, 2018 to accept or deny the proposed addition to the Census.
Argument for the Citizenship Question
The Justice Department’s primary rationale for requesting the inclusion of a citizenship question on the upcoming Census is to more effectively enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Voting Rights Act was initially created to protect African-Americans’ voting rights at a time when discriminatory practices were frequently used to squash those rights.
The Voting Rights Act also prevents the dilution of minority groups and their voting power through erroneous redistricting. The Justice Department argues that to protect voters’ rights and prevent voting violations, accurate data on persons in the country and their citizenship status is crucial.
The Census Bureau population breakdown is used to determine the distribution of the U.S. House’ 435 Seats and helps the government determine where to spend federal funds – and if non-citizens are afraid to participate, their communities stand to lose crucial representation and support.
Argument Against the Citizenship Question
Those against the census citizenship question believe asking people about their immigration status will only discourage their participation and result in inaccurate numbers. They also point out citizenship information is already available in the American Community Survey, a random rolling sub-survey of Census participants. The American Community Survey includes approximately one in every thirty-eight households in the United States and does collect citizenship data.
On a practical note, adding just a single question to the Census is a costly prospect. One New York representative estimates the addition would increase the cost of the Census by hundreds of millions of dollars. Finally, additions to the Census usually undergo extensive field-testing before becoming permanent; the 2020 Census would not allow time for such testing.
The Commerce Department will make a determination on the citizenship question soon enough. Time will tell if the Census is the best way to track citizenship, or if it will only inhibit immigrants from speaking out about their status. Philadelphia citizenship lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. are available to answer any immigration question you have about you or your loved one. We guide you every step of the way and always keep you informed on the latest developments in your case.
Philadelphia Citizenship Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C Offer Multilingual Legal Guidance
We know you may have concerns about your status and we handle every case with compassion and understanding. To discuss your immigration concerns with our team of multilingual Philadelphia immigration lawyers, call 215-925-4435 or submit an online inquiry today. Surin & Griffin, P.C. is located in Center City Philadelphia and serves clients throughout Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and the state of Pennsylvania.