Census Citizenship Question a Dramatic Misstep

March 26, 2018

New York, N.Y. –  Late today, the U.S. Commerce Department announced it would include a question about citizenship status on the 2020 census. The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law said such a move will drive down participation in the census, leading to a systematic undercount that will have damaging effects on our democracy for a decade or more.

Wendy Weiser, director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, issued the following statement:

"Our Constitution requires a complete and accurate count of everyone living in the country, no matter her or his citizenship status. The administration’s decision to add a citizenship question is at best a dramatic misstep, and at worst a politically-motivated move that will undermine a fair and accurate census. Experts and census professionals agree that a new citizenship question will seriously cut participation in the process, particularly by immigrant and mixed-status households, fundamentally warping the national headcount.

"A fair and accurate count is critical to our democracy. The results of the census are key to how we divide up seats in Congress and draw our election maps, ensuring that everyone is represented in government. The results also determine how we distribute a wide range of federal resources. They are critical to industry and academic research.

"This question is a dangerous move that could lead to a serious skewing of the final census results, which would have a deleterious effect on our system of representative democracy. We urge the administration to reconsider."

Read more about the Brennan Center’s work on the census.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Naren Daniel at (646) 292-8381 or naren.daniel@nyu.edu