Skip to main content

Talking Points: Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

On this page, LWVUS will maintain updated talking points for all Leagues to speak with one voice about the dangers of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

Late in the evening on March 26, 2018, the Commerce Department announced the addition of an untested and unnecessary question to the 2020 Census form, which will ask every person in America about their citizenship status.

This issue can be overturned, and we will fight to see it removed from the 2020 Census.

Our strategy to counter this decision will be three parts:

  1. Characterize the decision by the Commerce Department to include the question as WRONG – and if the question remains, it will have a major impact on the accuracy of the Census.
  2. Reiterate the importance of the Census and the many uses of Census data for all communities.
  3. Action: We will fight to fix this and work with everyone who cares about the accuracy of the Census to change the decision and remove the question on citizenship from the Census.

 

TALKING POINTS: Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

Why including a question about citizenship is wrong and if this question remains, it will harm the results of the Census:  

  • The Constitution says to count all persons – not all citizens. 
  • The Commerce Secretary made a wrong decision to include this question in the Census.  
  • This unnecessary citizenship question is invasive and will raise concerns about the confidentiality of personal information. 
  • This intrusive question will cause participation in the Census to plummet. 
  • This question is a political move designed to frighten immigrants into not participating in the Census. 
  • The cost of adding an untested question this late in the process is significant to taxpayers.  

Why it is critical to get the 2020 Census right:  

  • Getting an accurate count in the 2020 Census is critical to all American communities.
  • Millions of people including community groups, local officials and business entrepreneurs rely on the Census to provide accurate, comprehensive data about our nation that impacts us all:  
    • Census data is the basis for fair political representation and this data is used to draw district lines reflective of the population.   
    • Community leaders use Census data to allocate resources including public safety planning and disaster response, education needs, hospitals, assistance for veterans and transportation.
    • Business leaders use Census data to make investment decisions that boost economic growth.
  • We only get one chance every ten years to get this right. The Census must be done fairly and accurately.  

We will fight to fix this decision and remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census:  

  • This is not a partisan issue. There is bipartisan opposition to adding the citizenship question, including 61 members of Congressmore than 160 Democratic and Republican mayors; six former Census directors who served in Republican and Democratic administrations; 19 attorneys general; the statistical community; and several dozen business leaders from across the country.  
  • We call on Congress to reverse this decision and remove the citizenship question from the Census. The stakes are too high to allow this question to derail the count.  
  • It is up to Congress to exercise oversight and appropriations authority over the Census Bureau.  
  • We will join forces with business leaders, elected officials of all parties as well as grassroots leaders and civic activists to defend our Census.
  • We call on our mayors, our city council members and local officials to speak out about this issue and tell Congress they must take action to fix this error in judgment. 
  • State officials are already acting. The state of California has filed a lawsuit and the state of New York plans to lead a multistate legal effort in opposition of the untested citizenship question on the 2020 Census.