Will the 2020 Census include a question on citizenship? We sure hope not.
The Census has not included a question about citizenship in nearly 70 years. It is the responsibly of the Census to count all the people living in the United States – not just the citizens. The League believes including such a question is unnecessary but beyond that, this question would frighten non-citizens from participating in the survey.
So why does the Justice Department want that question back in the questionnaire?
At a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing today, acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, John Gore said the request to include the citizenship question was driven by enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA).
The question over citizenship has not been asked on the Census since before the passage of the VRA, but it has been included on the American Community Survey (ACS). When pressed by multiple members of the Committee, Gore could provide no evidence of a VRA case brought by the Justice Department being thrown out due to a lack of data on citizenship.
Gore continued to dodge questions regarding the motivation and evidence behind the inclusion of the question. He refused to answer questions about who was involved in the decision-making process. And he refused to share the rationale for why this question is needed for VRA enforcement.