Government

Dems Spuriously Claim Census Citizenship Question Is 'Illegal'

After a 70-year hiatus, the census is officially set to renew a query of U.S. residents' citizenship status.

Jordan Candler · Mar. 27, 2018

After a 70-year hiatus, the census — a constitutionally mandated national survey commissioned by the federal government every 10 years — is officially set to renew a query of U.S. residents’ citizenship status. In a Monday letter, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “determined that reinstatement of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census is necessary to provide complete and accurate data.” He reasoned that “for the approximately 90 percent of the population who are citizens, this question is no additional imposition. And for the approximately 70 percent of non-citizens who already answer this question accurately on the [American Community Survey], the question is no additional imposition since census responses by law may only be used anonymously and for statistical purposes.”

His last point especially underscores the foolishness of the leftist-infused vitriol that quickly emerged. California’s Democrat Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla penned an op-ed in which they scorned the question as “not just a bad idea” but as “illegal.”

It’s remarkable they can even say this with a straight face considering their state perpetually breaks federal law by harboring illegal immigrants. To them, what’s down is up and what’s up is down. Further case in point: Following the Commerce Department’s citizenship announcement, Becerra predictably tweeted: “Filing suit against [the Trump] Administration over decision to add #citizenship question on #2020Census.” California will be joined by at least 11 other states in this legal challenge.

California’s attempt at judicial retaliation is entirely meritless. As Secretary Ross stated, “Responses by law may only be used anonymously and for statistical purposes.” Furthermore, the question has significant precedence. Ross also noted in his letter that “prior decennial census surveys of the entire United States population consistently asked citizenship questions up until 1950, and Census Bureau surveys of sample populations continue to ask citizenship questions to this day.” He elucidated: “In 2000, the decennial census ‘long form’ survey, which was distributed to one in six people in the U.S., included a question on citizenship. Following the 2000 decennial census, the ‘long form’ sample was replaced by the American Community Survey (‘ACS’), which has included a citizenship question since 2005. Therefore, the citizenship question has been well tested.” And not exactly unprecedented.

In February, former Justice Department official and Heritage Foundation fellow Hans von Spakovsky wrote, “Citizenship information collected in the 2000 census was vital to our efforts to enforce the Voting Rights Act when I worked at the U.S. Department of Justice. When reviewing claims of whether the voting strength of minority voters was being diluted in redistricting, it was essential to know the size of the citizen voting age population.” He added: “Without knowing citizenship, for example, it is not possible to know what percentage of Hispanic voters are needed in a particular congressional district to elect their candidate of choice, which is the key test under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.” His takeaway? “Of course” the citizenship question is necessary.

The only reason it’s up for debate today is because the Left has engineered a political crusade, doing everything in its power to cultivate faithful Democrat voters. That includes conjuring up unfounded fear and expecting the courts to intervene. Who knew a basic, traditional, commonsense question over citizenship would become a rallying cry through which Democrats undermine America?

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