Addition of Citizenship Question Compromises the Fairness and Accuracy of Census


WASHINGTON – Last night, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross directed the U.S. Census Bureau to add a question about citizenship to the Census. This question is untested and intrusive, and will raise concerns in households about the confidentiality of their personal information. It will undermine the Census’ central purpose of conducting an accurate enumeration. Immigrant communities, documented and undocumented, that fear being targeted by the administration will be undercounted.

“The decision to add a citizenship question is purely political, and could have a destructive effect on the accuracy of the data we rely on to structure our democracy,” said Danielle Lang, senior legal counsel, voting rights and redistricting, at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “It is the Census Bureau’s constitutional responsibility to conduct a fair and accurate count of every person living in the United States. Americans deserve fair representation based on accurate Census data, but this will not happen if the Census is marred by significant undercounting.”

There has been bipartisan opposition to the Justice Department’s request for the question, including 60 members of Congress, 161 Democratic and Republican mayors, six former census directors who served in Republican and Democratic administrations and 19 attorneys general.

CLC filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Department of Justice and U.S. Census Bureau seeking more information on how the Census Bureau arrived at its decision to act on DOJ’s recommendation. The Civil Rights Division of the DOJ has refused to provide any information about how it reached the decision to make this request.

Additionally, on January 18, CLC signed a letter to Secretary Ross expressing legal concerns about the leadership of the Census Bureau.