The Census, Citizenship and the Question
The Census, Citizenship and the Question
Not a week goes by without the Democrats being in an uproar about something coming from the White House. The latest is the inclusion of a question on the 2020 census about whether or not the respondents are citizens or not. Oh, the gnashing of teeth. Oh, the wails of outrage. All over a single question about whether or not members of a household are citizens or not.
That is the important word to keep in mind. Nowhere is there any indication the Administration has asked for, much less received, the okay to ask if people are here legally or illegally. The question is simple: are you a citizen or not.
Why ask this?
Wilbur Ross, Secretary of the Department of Commerce, says the information will be used to help track “alleged or suspected” violations of the Voting Rights Act. One would think that reason enough for any politician to at least consider returning the question to the questionnaire. But no, the howls of outrage have been sounding for months, long before the media really picked up the story and ran with it.
Earlier this year, the New York Times tried its own version of scare tactics by claiming the inclusion of the question could, and quite possibly would, be bad for our health. Yes, you read that right. By asking a single question – are you a citizen – our health would be detrimentally impacted. Apparently asking the question might prevent non-citizens, “even those in the country legally”, not to answer for fear that doing so could expose them, or their family, to deportation.
Following this logic, if you can call it that, the NYT believes those in the country legally might be afraid that answering they aren’t citizens could, and possibly would, lead to their deportation. What? If someone is in the country legally and if that person is answering a government required questionnaire, they aren’t going to be deported for answering honestly a question that has no impact on their immigration status.
After that lapse of logic, the NYT continued with its scare tactics by pointing out that data is the life’s blood of scientific research. If people are afraid to answer the questionnaire, our medical professionals will lack data they need to determine the “validity of the next decade of health statistics and programs.”
Fear. That seems to be the basis of the NYT’s objection to the question. Logical or not, they latched onto it and began to do their best to spread it. They’ve been joined over the last 24 hours by others in the media and Democratic politicians around the nation.
Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, addressed the issue and called the inclusion of the question “a scare tactic to try to scare Latinos and others from participating in the 2020 census.” Others argue that the inclusion of the question will lead to an undercount of voting age residents and that, in turn, could lead to the loss of representation in Congress.
“The question is unnecessarily intrusive and will raise concerns in all households – native- and foreign-born, citizen and non-citizen – about the confidentiality of information provided to the government and how government authorities may use that information,” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
Wait? What? How is that question any more intrusive than some of the others that are asked and why would anyone who is here legally be upset by it being asked?
There’s the key word in this whole thing. “Legally.” Those opposing the question claim it is illegal to ask if someone is a citizen of this country.
So liberals say asking about citizenship in the census is illegal, but they won't say illegal immigrants being here is illegal?
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) March 27, 2018
Instead of addressing the real issues surrounding the immigration issue, politicians would rather complain about a question on the census. States like California are suing to prevent the question from being included. They hang their justification for such action on the possibility that the response rate to the census “might” be lower. According to them, it is illegal for the government to ask if respondents are citizens. Now, following this logic (and I use that term loosely), wouldn’t it be illegal for the federal government to enforce immigration laws? Oh, wait, there are those who feel that way already. Silly me.
The census is designed to gather data. This data is used for more than simply determining representation in Congress. It is used, as noted earlier, for public health. It is used to help determine funding for certain projects, many of which impact the nation’s infrastructure. For data to be effective, it needs to include as many factors as possible. So why not ask about whether someone is a citizen or not? Remember, the question isn’t if a person is here illegally. It is if they are a citizen.