Citizenship Question on 2020 Census Undermines Democracy
San Francisco — CAA denounces the decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. According to independent experts, including this question will cause a more costly and inaccurate Census count, and will especially hurt hard-to-count communities such as immigrants who already experience political under-representation. At CAA, we point out that this decision is part and parcel with ongoing policy attacks by the Trump administration against immigrants and communities of color.
The U.S. Constitution calls for a decennial Census of all residents in the United States as a basis for electoral representation. Census data is also used to determine how taxpayer funds are allocated for critical public services such as education, health, and infrastructure. The Census has historically under-counted communities of color, immigrants, and other marginalized people. An accurate count is necessary to ensure that communities can participate fully and equally in our democracy.
There is no basis or historical requirement for a citizenship question in the Census. Its inclusion raises legitimate questions about whether individual Census responses will be kept confidential as required by federal law, and it undermines the trust that immigrant communities must have in the Census if they are to participate fully. This will lead to lower response rates to the Census, increased spending by the Census Bureau, and less accurate results for immigrant communities.
“Fear among immigrant communities is already high as a result of Trump and his anti-immigrant policies,” states CAA Director of Advocacy Hong Mei Pang. “ Including a question about citizenship in the Census accomplishes nothing except to further marginalize and disenfranchise immigrant communities including those of Chinese descent.”
CAA supports the twelve-state lawsuit, which includes California, to challenge and reverse the inclusion of the citizenship question. We also call on Congress to hold hearings and compel the Commerce Department to change its plans. Lastly, CAA is engaged in local and state budget advocacy to ensure trusted grassroots groups in hard-to-count communities have access to resources to ensure a fair and accurate Census.
Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) is a community-based civil rights organization in San Francisco. Founded in 1969, CAA conducts direct services, leadership development, movement building, and policy advocacy to protect immigrant rights and advance racial and social justice.