American Sociological Association

ASA Fights Against Adding Citizenship Question to Census

January 4, 2018

The Department of Justice recently asked the Census Bureau to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.  Should this proposal be favorably received, the integrity of the 2020 Census data will be fundamentally compromised.   Including a citizenship question is likely to keep some people from responding to the questionnaire and others from responding truthfully, thereby undermining the accuracy of the data.  In addition, there is no longer time to properly test a new question.  Creation of the questionnaire is a complex process that requires years of evaluation.  With little time left before the 2020 launch, a new question could not be subject to standard rigorous testing, which would further undermine the quality of the data.  

The import of an accurate census cannot be understated.  An accurate census allows policy-makers in public, private, and non-profit sectors to make evidence-based decisions.

For more information about this issue, read this factsheet and this editorial.

The Census Bureau is required to submit the questions to be included in the 2020 Census by April 1, 2018.  Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross oversees the Census Bureau.  Please urge him not to add a citizenship question to those that will be submitted in April.  Congress also has the power to prevent this, so please reach out to your Members of Congress as well.  

The time to act on this is now.  Click here to urge Secretary Ross and your Members of Congress to ensure an accurate census.