Census Controversy

May 14, 2010 • Volume 20, Issue 19
Should undocumented immigrants be counted?
By Thomas J. Billitteri


U.S. households returned census forms at 72% rate (AFP/Getty Images/Paul J. Richards)
Despite controversy over this year's count, U.S. households returned census forms at the same 72 percent rate as in 2000. Census data determine the number of seats in congressional districts and how nearly $5 trillion in federal funds will be distributed to states and localities over the coming decade. (AFP/Getty Images/Paul J. Richards)

Now under way, the 2010 census has sparked bitter partisanship. Some conservative Republicans, for example, have criticized the census as an unconstitutional intrusion on privacy; others warn that census participation is important for maintaining GOP power, since the count is used to apportion congressional seats and allocate federal money to cities and states. Liberal Democrats have been more supportive of census procedures, which for the first time will count same-sex couples. To raise response rates, the Census Bureau sent every household the same brief 10-question form and dropped use of the “long form” — a lengthy questionnaire seeking data on housing, transportation, education and income. The long form has been replaced by a separate, ongoing monthly survey that will provide timelier data, but from a smaller sample of households. Researchers generally hail the change but say it will cause some problems, at least initially.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 14, 2010  Census Controversy
May 01, 1998  Census 2000
Mar. 10, 1989  1990 Census: Undercounting Minorities
Feb. 29, 1980  Census Taking, 1980
Mar. 18, 1970  Census Taking, 1970