Against a Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

Amanda Valenzuela

The Supreme Court recently ruled that there would not be a citizenship question included on the 2020 census, and we should be glad they did. The 2020 census, as well as any census in the future, should not include a citizenship question, because it runs the risk of producing inaccurate results.

Undocumented immigrants trying to go unnoticed will opt out of the census entirely, as well as mixed families and citizens who are against the question. “The question’s mere presence on the census would deter non- citizens and even legal citizens from filling out the form for fear of government retaliation,” leaving parts of the immigrant population uncounted, leading to census results that don’t represent the actual diversity of the country. Not to mention, immigrants with U.S citizenship could choose not to participate in solidarity with those who would be affected. There are roughly 44.5 million people of foreign birth in the U.S as of 2017. If even a fraction of them opted out, the entire country’s inhabitants would be underestimated. 

If some areas are shown to have a smaller population than they actually have, government aid will be restricted, along with their overall representation in Congress. Some government funding is based on population, therefore, “areas with more immigrants which tend to vote Democratic could have lost both representation and funding.” The number of Representatives in the House per state is also determined by the population. Immigrant communities who do not participate could lose their voice in politics and be subject to fewer schools built, not enough for the number of children who reside there. Government funding takes care of things like food stamps and Medicare. If a community or state is undercounted, the government could budget less money than necessary, making those services harder to access. 

Immigrants are more likely to vote for Democrats, which means that Republicans would be able to use the citizenship question to their advantage. Electoral College votes are also based on the number of people who reside in each state. Democrats wonder if the insistence of the Republicans to include the question is “to discourage noncitizens from responding, skewing the population counts used to draw congressional districts and eventually giving republicans a bigger electoral advantage.” If the population is under counted because of undocumented immigrants or those who do not believe in the citizenship question, then regardless of voter turnout, their vote will not matter as much as other less immigrant-dense states. Less diverse Republican states will be valued more in the elections, therefore minimizing immigrant voices throughout the country and allowing for more Republicans to take office. 

If the census were to have a citizenship question, there is a likelihood that the outcomes would be inaccurate. Undocumented immigrants and people who care about them would not participate, creating inaccurate representation for minorities and empowering Republican states. Immigrants are a vital and active part of the country, and a representative democracy should accurately count them and amplify their voices instead of working so hard to stifle them.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.