The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that a question on citizenship status will be reinstated to the 2020 decennial census questionnaire to help enforce the Voting Rights Act at the request of the Department of Justice.
The citizenship question will be the same as the one that is asked on the yearly American Community Survey (ACS), a long, non-mandatory question form.
On Dec. 12, 2017, DOJ requested that the Census Bureau reinstate a citizenship question on the decennial census to provide census block level citizenship voting age population (CVAP) data that is not currently available from government surveys. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “determined that obtaining complete and accurate information to meet this legitimate government purpose outweighed the limited potential adverse impacts,” the department said.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration over the addition of the citizenship question, arguing the directive violates Article I, section 2 of the Constitution, which requires the “actual Enumeration” of all people in each state every ten years, and the Administrative Procedure Act’s prohibition against “arbitrary and capricious” agency action.
“An accurate census count sets in motion the services and benefits that shape the future of every Californian. The census constitutes the backbone for planning how and where our communities will invest taxpayer dollars,” said Becerra in a statement. “California simply has too much to lose to allow the Trump Administration to botch this important decennial obligation. What the Trump Administration is requesting is not just alarming, it is an unconstitutional attempt to disrupt an accurate Census count.”