In response to the Trump Administration's efforts to include a question on citizenship in the non-partisan 2020 Census -- likely depressing participation among immigrant households -- U.S. Senators Bob Menendez, Cory Booker and Maizie Hirono today introduced the Every Person Counts Act of 2018 (S. 2580) that would prohibit the Census Bureau from asking a question on citizenship or immigration status.
ProPublica first reported that the Department of Justice had urged the Census Bureau to include a citizenship question on the upcoming census claiming it was critical to enforcement of Voting Rights Act. Earlier this month, it further reported the request was drafted by Trump political appointee who has worked on behalf of Republican redistricting efforts. And just this week, news reports revealed Trump campaign officials have used the president's push for the controversial, anti-immigrant proposal to raise money for his re-election.
"The federal census is NOT a tool to rally the President's base," said Sen. Menendez. "It is a constitutionally mandated count of every single person living in this country -- no matter where they're from or how they got here. It's incredible that we even have to consider legislation to prevent this administration from politicizing the census with his anti-immigrant sentiments and polluting the redistricting process to bend it towards his party."
"The administration's proposal to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census is just its latest effort to cater to Donald Trump's anti-immigrant base and foment fear," said Sen. Hirono. "Census data is utilized to make critical decisions for the entire federal government and adding this question would have a devastating impact on minority participation and future funding for programs that impact the most needy communities. I call on my colleagues to join us in keeping the Census nonpartisan by banning this blatantly political proposal."
"The 2020 Census count must be accurate, efficient, and completely nonpartisan," Sen. Booker said. "Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census questionnaire compromises each of these core goals. I'm proud to stand with Senator Menendez, Senator Hirono, and six previous Census directors who have implored this administration not to inject nativist politics into a system that determines -- among many other things -- how and where we vote, build schools, and deliver emergency services. This bill ensures that we will meet our Constitutional Census obligations and bars cynical efforts to keep immigrants undercounted and underrepresented in our society."
The bill is also co-sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.).
The Census Bureau must by law provide Congress with the final wording of the census questionnaire by March 31.
The Every Person Counts Act of 2018
This bill would:
Requirement: Amend title 13, United States Code, to make clear that each decennial census shall tabulate the total number of persons in each State.
Prohibition: Prohibit the Secretary of Commerce from including any census question regarding United States citizenship or immigration status.
Rule of Construction: Forbid an interpretation that would permit or require the census exclusion of populations based on age, personnel in the Armed Forces serving abroad, federal employees and their dependents stationed abroad or other persons outside the United States who are traceable to the State of their usual place of residence.