In The News: The U.S. Census And Citizenship

The United States (U.S.) Census has existed for hundreds of years. Started in 1790, the census is a pillar of American government procedure. It allows both proper assessment of the U.S. population as well as educated estimation of population growth and transformation. It is an incredibly useful tool for a variety of reasons.

In America, the census occurs every 10 years. The last census occurred in 2010, so the next U.S. census is scheduled for 2020. Unsurprisingly, some controversy surrounds the approaching census, as the Trump administration announced in 2018 that it intended to add a question regarding citizenship. This plan was immediately challenged in U.S. courts, and recently, a NY federal judge ordered the removal of the citizenship question.

This article reviews some basic information about the U.S. Census, as well as discusses the recent disputes regarding the upcoming 2020 census.

Understanding The Census

Thomas Jefferson led the first census in 1790. In the many decades since, the census has collected information about the American population every 10 years. It gathers critical details about the U.S. populace and allows lawmakers and government leaders to make essential decisions. Additionally, the census allows government analysts to observe trends in data and analyze population growth and evolution throughout the years.

Mandated by the U.S. Constitution, the intended purpose of the census is to count every resident of the country. The constitution does not note that the government should keep track of every citizen, but instead count every single resident living on U.S. soil.

The census is very important. For example, its results affect allocation of federal funds to states and local communities. Further, census results drive government representation, because through “apportionment” seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are distributed. Because of the great importance of the census, any change or alteration to its contents should be scrutinized and only included if it will be helpful.

You can read further about the U.S. census and its history on the Census Bureau’s website.

Trump Administration Adds New Question To 2020 Census

In early 2018, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the 2020 census would include a question about citizenship. The question itself would ask, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” In short, this announcement immediately caused concern and controversy. Human rights groups quickly filed lawsuits across the country, including in states like New York and Maryland.

Such a question, for good reason, has not been asked since the 1950s. First, the Constitution does not ask that the census count every citizen – it simply orders officials to tally every U.S. resident. Second, a question regarding citizenship may lower census participation, as immigrants and other diverse communities might fear government targeting or retaliation. Considering the Trump administration’s history and stance on immigration, it is not surprising that many people across the U.S. were concerned by this new addition to the 2020 Census.

Judge Removes Citizenship Question From 2020 Census

In January 2019, U.S. federal district judge Jesse Furman released his final decision regarding the 2020 census’s citizenship question. Within a 277-page document, Furman orders the removal of the Trump administration’s question for several reasons.

Firstly, according to Furman’s opinion, the Trump administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act, making their actions in the case “unlawful.” The Administrative Procedure Act requires lawmakers and government workers to “use existing government records….as much as possible” when analyzing citizenship.[1]

Further, Judge Furman stated that the Trump administration’s actions were illegal because no true or believable justification was provided for the addition of the new citizenship question. In the Judge’s own words, Secretary Wilbur Ross “announced his decision in a manner that concealed its true basis rather than explaining it.” Thus, the Trump administration’s addition of a citizenship question has no outward justification or legal basis. This makes the decision arbitrary and questionable in its intent.

Within his opinion, Judge Furman did not state that his decision was final. If the Trump administration produces adequate justification or evidence for the need for a citizenship question, the Judge may allow it to proceed in 2020. Yet, considering the Trump administration’s previous efforts, it’s unlikely that Secretary Ross will be able to produce any true evidence. Despite this, the Trump administration has already announced its intent to appeal Judge Furman’s ruling.

What Will Happen?

At this point, it is unclear what the final outcome will be regarding the 2020 census and its proposed citizenship question. Many expect the Supreme Court to hear and adjudicate the case, which is a likely scenario. Yet for the moment, the question is effectively removed from the census, but the Trump administration has appealed the ruling. Additionally, Commerce Secretary Ross has been summoned to speak before the House Oversight Committee in March 2019. At that time, the public will learn more about the Trump administration’s justification for the citizenship question. Likely, we will know more about the case after Ross’s hearing. Remember to check our blog for updates, which we will post as they become available.

Talk To A Skilled Dallas Immigration Attorney

In conclusion, current events in the U.S. can be disheartening for many people. Several prominent leaders, including the president himself, avidly oppose immigration in nearly any form. Luckily, the American legal system stands as a fierce protector of civil rights. Thus, if you have any questions about your immigration status, or your right to live and/or work in the U.S., contact an experienced immigration lawyer today. Remember, avoid scams and heartbreak – only work with lawyers registered with your state’s bar association.

The lawyers at Davis & Associates continually monitor legal news and government reforms. That way, our team is updated, knowledgeable, and able to provide timely advice and guidance for our clients. Our expert immigration attorneys are both passionate and caring, and can help you with any immigration need. Sit down with us today to discuss your questions, concerns, and/or case. Contact our office to set up a free initial consultation. And whatever immigration issue you face – you’re not alone, and we can help.

Sources Cited

[1] Lo Wang, H. (2019, January 15). Judge Orders Trump Administration to Remove 2020 Census Citizenship Question. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org

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