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Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census would harm immigrant communities for decades to come.

Update, January 15, 2019:  A federal judge struck down the administration's plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. According to the judge, "hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people will go uncounted in the census if the citizenship question is included."

The ruling is a victory for our democracy and a rebuke of the administration’s anti-immigrant agenda. The case is likely to head to the Supreme Court.

By Adam Flores, policy intern at Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Master of Public Policy student at the University of Chicago

As part of the Trump-Pence administration's dream to "make America great again," the U.S. Department of Commerce announced plans to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 census, which hasn't been done since 1950.

This might seem harmless. But it’s not — not to families like mine or all those that include members who are native- and foreign-born, citizen and non-citizen, as well as mixed-status families.

Blog author Adam Flores with his grandparents. 

Adding a citizenship question to the census would break a 60-year standard.  And it’s part of an ongoing pattern of harmful and discriminatory policies against people of color being pushed by this administration.

Join me in saying NO to discriminatory census changes!

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The Census Question Is An Extension Of The Administration’s Anti-immigrant Policies

The administration says the census needs the citizenship question to help enforce the Voting Rights Act, but its poor record on voting rights suggests otherwise. Shortly after taking office, U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, and other administration officials began working to undermine the power and well-being of marginalized communities across the country, including immigrant populations. This is simply the latest in a long line of attacks.

Why Undercounting Immigrant Communities Would Cause Great Harm

The goal of the census is to collect an accurate count of residents. But that's impossible if the president and his administration use it as a tool to scare immigrant and mixed-status families from responding. An undercount of immigrant communities would 

  • Skew representation in Congress and state legislatures. Census data determines congressional and legislative districts — including how many U.S. House members each state has — as well as redistricting plans. An undercount would mean less representation and power for already marginalized groups

  • Divert federal funding from immigrant communities — including for vital health care programs.* Census data helps determine how federal tax dollars are spent for government programs. That includes Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in addition to Title X, the nation’s only program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care, and Medicaid, which one in five women of reproductive age rely on. And these are no small chunks of change: In Fiscal Year 2015, U.S. Census Bureau data determined how to disperse over $600 billion in federal funds, including over $300 billion in Medicaid.

*Though many undocumented people can’t benefit from these government programs, their inclusion based on census data affects access for citizens with different levels of citizenship status as well as folks in mixed status homes who may be able to benefit. 

Census data are used for a decade. Inaccurate counts would mean that communities already underserved by vital government programs will be further underserved for decades to come.

We can’t allow the administration to continually promote policies that deny our communities support for essential health care.

In this current political climate, immigrant families are already living with daily discrimination, threats of family separation and detention, and fear of harsh immigration enforcement.

It is no surprise that members of immigrant and other marginalized communities will not be eager to reveal their citizenship status to government workers knocking on their doors.

— Bridgette Gomez Director of Latino Leadership and Engagement, Planned Parenthood 

Source: The Hill

Given that census data was used to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II, it’s understandable that many may be unwilling to provide their information to the federal government for fear of being targeted by this administration. The Trump-Pence administration is determined to deprive communities of color and immigrant communities of the representation, rights, and services they need.

We know how this President and his administration regard and treat immigrants, especially those who look like my Mexican immigrant grandparents. We must stand up and object this harmful attack on our families, friends, and neighbors by telling the administration to drop the citizenship question.

Tell The Administration: Stop This Racist And Undemocratic Policy!

The administration's deadline to speak out is fast-approaching. Add your name to share your opposition to Trump’s attempt to weaponize the 2020 census against immigrant communities.

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