NEWS8 March 2019

Census Bureau seeking citizenship data

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US – The Census Bureau is seeking federal records on non-citizens as part of its data collection for the 2020 decennial census. 

US census questionnaire

Under a proposed plan, the Department of Homeland Security would provide the bureau with information on immigrants, according to the Associated Press, which first reported the story.

The agreement is not finalised, but Michael Cook, spokesperson for the census, told the AP: “The US Census Bureau routinely enters into agreements to receive administrative records from many agencies, including our pending agreement with US Citizenship and Immigration Services, to assist us in our mission to provide quality statistics to the American public.

“By law, the Census Bureau does not return any records to the Department of Homeland Security or any of its components, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

The decision to reinstate a citizenship question in the 2020 census has raised concerns that it could negatively affect turnout in areas with large immigrant populations, impacting federal funding decisions.

This week, a judge in California blocked the addition of the question, the second to do so following a January ruling from a federal judge in New York City.

The US Supreme Court will decide on whether a question on citizenship can legally be added, with a ruling expected in June.

The results of the census could help guide the allocation of an estimated $880bn a year in federal funding, according to analysis from George Washington University’s Andrew Reamer.

Reamer said: “The fair and equitable distribution of federal financial assistance to state and local governments and households will depend on the accuracy of the 2020 census.”