The Trump Administration has announced that a question on citizenship status will be included on the 2020 Census. This will fundamentally compromise the integrity of the census.
As sociologists, we know that 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. We know that creation of the questionnaire is a complex process that requires years of evaluation. With little time left before the 2020 launch, a new question can no longer be subject to standard rigorous testing. In fact, field testing for Census 2020 is already underway.
Congress has the power to stop this.
This situation is rapidly evolving. There is already some proposed legislation in Congress to overturn this, and we expect to see additional bills drafted in the coming period of time. In addition, states and concerned organizations are filing lawsuits seeking to block this action.
In addition to encouraging members to contact their representatives, ASA has signed on to a letter with 300 civil rights, faith, and labor groups calling on Congress to hold oversight hearings on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to include a new citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The signatories say that adding the untested question would jeopardize the accuracy of the census count in all communities for the next 10 years.
ASA is monitoring this issue closely and mobilizing response on a number of fronts.