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Census Submits Citizenship and Other Questions for 2020 Census

By Angelo Falcón

The NiLP Report

The Census Bureau yesterday submitted to the Congress the planned questions for the 2020 Census and America Community Survey. While the questions were generally not controversial, such as age, sex, income, etc., the last minute addition of a question on citizenship status ignited a firestorm of criticisms.

Viewed by Latino advocates as a strictly partisan political move by the Trump administration and the Republican Party, it has, to date become the object of lawsuits challenging its constitutionality by 22 states. In the House of Representatives, Congress members such as Nydia Velazquez and Carolyn Maloney, among others, have sworn to block adoption of the citizenship question. Latino community leaders, led by Arturo Vargas of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), have also expressed strong opposition to the addition of this question.

The main concern is that with the current anti-immigrant policies of the Trump administration the inclusion of this question in the 2020 (a Presidential election year) Census would result in undocumented persons fearing to participate in the Census. It is feared that Latinos in particular will be extremely undercounted, having been the target of Trump's anti-Latino rhetoric and policies. This is a problem that would extend beyond undocumented individuals to mixed families that include both the undocumented and citizens where the citizen members may also be fearful of exposing household members to deportation.

At this point there are three possible scenarios regarding the citizenship question:

Citizenship Question Removed. The question is not included in the 2020 Census and remains in the sample-based American Community Survey (ACS).

Boycott Entire 2020 Census. The citizenship question is added and most undercounted persons and their families decide to boycott the 2020 Census, rendering it the most unreliable count in history. This would include not responding to enumerators visiting homes. The result would be a Census so inaccurate it is useless for reapportionment and other purposes.

Boycott Only Citizenship Question. The citizenship question is added and there is a national campaign to participate in the 2020 Census but not answer that particular question, rendering it useless while not affecting the participation rate for the overall Census.

Below list a list of the Census questions of greatest interest to Latinos. The full list of questions submitted by Census is contined in their publication, Questions Planned for the 2020 Census and American Community Survey: Federal Lergislative Program Uses (March 2018).

2020 Census




American Community Survey What is it?

In addition to the three above also includes:

Ancestry and Ethnicity


Place of Birth

The NiLP Report on Latino Policy & Politics is an online information service provided by the National Institute for Latino Policy. For further information, visit www.latinopolicy. org. Send comments to editor@latinopolicy.org.