by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The announcement that the 2020 census will include a question asking whether household members are citizens was greeted with howls of protest from the left. They accused the administration of politicizing the decennial ritual mandated by the Constitution. The census has provided the country with vital information about the population since 1790. But in the view of liberals, President Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the census, are using the process to play to the Republicans’ right-wing base that hates immigrants, while also seeking to suppress representation in blue states. …
… But the fury of the Democrats and the assumption on the part of most of the liberal media that this move is, like the “Muslim” travel ban and the reversal of DACA protections for Dreamers and their families, one more example of the administration’s animus toward immigrants is more than a little disingenuous. Far from sabotaging the census, inquiring about citizenship is a reasonable, even traditional approach to counting the population.
Part of the controversy rests on the notion that Ross’s department is drastically departing from existing practices.
It is true that a question about citizenship has not been on the short form that most Americans get during the last six censuses dating back to 1960. But it was included as late as 1950. And … the citizenship question has never been absent from the long form that a smaller number of Americans receive. Moreover, it is on other government questionnaires that are distributed outside of the normal census process, such as the annual American Community Survey.