The 2020 Census

May 3, 2019 • Volume 29, Issue 17
Would a citizenship question undermine the count?
By Tom Price

Introduction

The Supreme Court is expected to decide by the end of June whether the 2020 census can ask respondents if they are U.S. citizens. Liberals and many census experts say the question could lead up to 6.5 million people, especially undocumented immigrants fearful of deportation, to refuse to fill out the census, ultimately diminishing Democratic political power. But Republicans say the nation needs an accurate tally of undocumented immigrants and that a citizenship question would help the Trump administration enforce the Voting Rights Act. Census accuracy has enormous political, economic and civic ramifications. The count determines the number of House seats in each state and how $880 billion in federal money is allocated to the states annually. In addition, demographers, economists, corporate planners and many others rely on census data. With so much at stake, conservatives and liberals also are arguing over whether the census has enough money to produce an accurate count. Meanwhile, a decision to encourage respondents to complete the census online for the first time is raising fears of hacking.

Demostrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court (Getty Images/NurPhoto/Aurora Samperio)
Demostrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on April 23 protest a plan to ask a citizenship question in the 2020 census. Census experts argue the question's inclusion would lead to an undercount of immigrants and minorities, but the Trump administration says the question is needed to help enforce the Voting Rights Act. (Getty Images/NurPhoto/Aurora Samperio)
ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Census
May 03, 2019  The 2020 Census
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
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
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Census
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Party Politics
Powers and History of the Presidency
Reapportionment and Redistricting
Reapportionment and Redistricting
Social Security
Supreme Court History and Decisions