Opposing Unjust Census Questions

Letter to Secretary Wilbur Ross

March 23, 2018

I urge Secretary Ross to reject any attempt to include questions regarding U.S. citizenship and immigration status in the 2020 Decennial Census. Asking for such information would have a chilling effect on the Census completion rate. The United States Census Bureau states that the goal of the Census is to serve “as the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy.” Implementing questions about citizenship would undermine this goal.

Many New Yorkers, such as people who are homeless, lack of proficiency with the English language, or fear federal action due to their race, ethnicity, or immigration status are deemed “hard to count” populations for Census collection. These groups will be further deterred from participating in the Census if there are questions regarding citizenship and immigration status. The majority of the people who will be discouraged from participating in the Census, are also those who would benefit greatly from a precise and fair allocation of resources. Individuals and families alike are rightfully concerned with how their data will be used and with whom it will be shared. Low participation in the Census can lead to significantly underfunding from the Federal government for the next decade.

In order for elected officials to best serve our constituents, we need to ensure that we obtain the most accurate information possible while remaining aware of the delicacies that exist in our constituents’ lives. Adding additional barriers or causes for lack of participation in the survey will only serve to further undermine funding for services for our most vulnerable populations.