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PoliticsThe fight over the 2020 census citizenship question, explained

01:30  13 june  2019
01:30  13 june  2019 Source:   vox.com

House Dems to hold Barr, Ross in contempt over census question

House Dems to hold Barr, Ross in contempt over census question The Oversight Committee wants key documents by Thursday.

The fight over the 2020 census citizenship question , explained . The congressional back-and-forth is just one battle in the ongoing war over the citizenship question , which will ask all census respondents to declare whether they are a citizen of the United States on the standard census form

The president contradicted statements by his Justice and Commerce Departments that census forms were being printed without the question and they would heed a court ruling. The justices gave a limited ruling on the Trump administration effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census .

The fight over the 2020 census citizenship question, explained© Pete Marovich/Getty Images Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham testifies before a House Appropriations Subcommittee about preparations for the upcoming 2020 census, on April 30, 2019, in Washington, DC.

The latest face-off between House Democrats and President Donald Trump is over the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 census.

The House Oversight Committee voted Wednesday to recommend holding Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas in the committee’s investigation into how and why the question was added.

DOJ fires back at allegations over GOP strategist's role in census citizenship question

DOJ fires back at allegations over GOP strategist's role in census citizenship question The Department of Justice on Monday sought to refute new allegations that a GOP redistricting operative played a significant role in getting a citizenship question on the 2020 census, calling the claims false and without merit. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); In a new court filing, DOJ lawyers offered a biting rebuke to the allegations made against Trump administration officials of attempting to obscure the role of the late GOP operative Thomas Hofeller in adding the citizenship question.

The citizenship question is included in the list of census questions that the Census Bureau sent to Congress this week. But the Ross memo says there is no “definitive, empirical support” for the claim that putting a citizenship question on the 2020 census would reduce response rates.

The Debate Over a New Citizenship Question Isn't the First Census Fight . On Tuesday, the Department of Commerce announced that a question on citizenship would be added to the 2020 census , which that agency oversees.

Trump invoked executive privilege earlier in the day, refusing to share documents that House Democrats want for their investigation.

The congressional back-and-forth is just one battle in the ongoing war over the citizenship question, which will ask all census respondents to declare whether they are a citizen of the United States on the standard census form for the first time since 1950.

The Trump administration claims it needs to ask the question to collect the data for the Justice Department to enforce the Voting Rights Act. But Democrats worry the real motivation is to discourage noncitizens from responding, skewing the population counts used to draw legislative districts and eventually giving Republicans a bigger electoral advantage. And the discovery of hard drives from a Republican operative, which included a 2015 study that found the citizenship question would allow the drawing of legislative districts that disadvantage Democrats, has added to a pile of evidence about the administration’s original intent.

Trump administration denies deceit in census citizenship fight

Trump administration denies deceit in census citizenship fight Trump administration denies deceit in census citizenship fight

The legal fight against the citizenship question planned for the 2020 census is mounting with more lawsuits, including one filed Tuesday in San Francisco federal Controversy over the question began in late March — a year after the bureau had submitted the proposed topics of questions for the 2020

A decision by Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census is being challenged in federal court.Credit The two sides sparred at length during the trial over what adding the question could mean; the Census Bureau conservatively estimated this spring

The Supreme Court will rule by the end of the month on whether the question is constitutional and whether the Trump administration followed proper procedure in adding the question. The accuracy of the final census count rests on the results — with big implications for how the parties are represented in Congress for years to come.

The government claims the question is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act. The evidence suggests that’s not the real reason.

The government’s justification for the question sounds simple enough: Asking about citizenship will provide more information about who is in the United States, and more information is always good. It claims it’s simply reinstating a question that’s been part of every census except 2010’s (although it hasn’t been on the short form used by every respondent since 1950).

But critics are skeptical that the Trump administration intends to use citizenship data for good reasons. And they are seriously concerned that adding a single citizenship question to the 2020 census could scare away millions of immigrants from filling out their mandatory surveys — throwing off the count of who’s present in America that’s used to determine congressional apportionment for the next decade, allocate federal funding for infrastructure, and serve as the basis for huge amounts of American research.

Judge delays decision in census citizenship case after hearing evidence of GOP scheme

Judge delays decision in census citizenship case after hearing evidence of GOP scheme "There is no smoking gun here, only smoke and mirrors," lawyers for the Justice Department said.

One day after the fight over whether the 2020 census would include a citizenship question seemed definitively decided in the negative, the Trump administration abruptly cast the whole issue into doubt, telling federal judges on The controversy over the citizenship question , briefly explained .

For months, liberal groups have collected evidence that the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census was intended And just last month, the daughter of the late Thomas Hofeller, a Republican redistricting strategist, turned over evidence showing that her father

The Commerce Department, which is in charge of conducting the census, claims it added the question in response to a request sent last fall by the Department of Justice, then headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that asked for a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The DOJ’s reasoning, adopted by the Department of Commerce, was that to appropriately enforce the Voting Rights Act, the DOJ needs to know where eligible voters, and specifically eligible voters of color, live — and so they have to be able to distinguish citizens from noncitizens.

But critics of the Trump administration see a more political motive. Records exposed in a New York lawsuit over the census question made it clear that their skepticism was well founded, because Wilbur Ross and the Commerce Department, at least, hadn’t been telling the public the whole truth about the process.

Emails showed that for months, Ross himself had already been asking around about adding a citizenship question, and Commerce Department officials had tried to get other agencies involved to “clear certain legal thresholds.” In fact, Ross and the Department of Commerce had to ask the DOJ to send them that letter giving the Voting Rights Act rationale.

House Democrats claim White House tried to block Kobach interview

House Democrats claim White House tried to block Kobach interview Kobach, the former secretary of state of Kansas, met with the committee on Monday to discuss the Census

Furthermore, the emails showed, Ross was warned about potential downsides of adding a new question — most notably, concerns that it would warp the census results by discouraging noncitizens from responding. But the question was added anyway.

Democrats worry the real purpose of having the census count citizens is to change how seats in Congress are allocated

There is one respect in which the Trump administration cares a lot about voting — it cares a lot about the complete and utter fiction that large numbers of noncitizens are able to vote. The DOJ letter on the citizenship question plays into that belief, quoting a court decision that says “the dignity and very concept of citizenship are diluted if noncitizens are allowed to vote.”

The census doesn’t determine who gets to vote. But it does determine how votes count. And voting rights advocates fear that generating citizenship data from the “actual enumeration” of the census would give the federal government the information it needed to apportion congressional seats based on how many citizens lived in each state, rather than how many people — something that would likely hurt Texas and California.

It could also encourage state efforts to draw congressional districts based on citizen population. The Supreme Court has routinely ruled that states are allowed to use total population when drawing districts — including in a 2016 decision where the Court sided 8-0 with Texas’s use of total population — but it hasn’t explicitly said that they have to.

Fight Over Census Documents Centers on Motive for a Citizenship Question

Fight Over Census Documents Centers on Motive for a Citizenship Question The fight between Congress and President Trump over census documents revolves around one crucial issue: discerning the true motive of the Trump administration when it made a historic decision to ask all residents in the country if they were an American citizen. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, has long claimed that the government needs more accurate data on citizenship to enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But a growing body of evidence — unearthed in lawsuits seeking to block the question — suggests that the administration added the question to entrench Republicans in power.

A conservative state government that wanted to allocate its representatives based only on people who could vote would already be able to do that using American Community Survey data (because redistricting, unlike reapportionment, is allowed to use sampled data). But it would be that much easier if that data were part of the essential census package.

There is, however, one big problem. Demographers studying the ACS data keep noticing that people often mark themselves as citizens when there’s pretty much no way they could be citizens — they’ve only lived in the US for a year, for example.

According to Jennifer Van Hook, a professor of sociology and demography at Penn State University, demographic groups that have large shares of unauthorized immigrants are the ones most likely to inaccurately mark themselves as citizens: Mexican men of working age, for example.

Maybe they don’t understand the question — or maybe it’s because they’re worried about what will happen if they tell the truth.

The US census doesn’t have a way to “fix” undercounts

In most demography — say, polling — when one group isn’t as likely to respond as another group, researchers can use statistical modeling to make sure they’re not underrepresented in the results.

The census can’t do that. It’s bound by the requirement for enumeration: counting. What it gets is what it gets.

Over the past couple of censuses, the final census count has been pretty close to accurate: In 2010, 95 percent of households were counted accurately — in fact, overall, the 2010 census slightly overcounted the US population.

Advocates say e-mails show that census question discriminates

Advocates say e-mails show that census question discriminates Activists say the documents give a federal judge latitude to re-examine whether the commerce secretary intended to discriminate against minorities.

But that takes a lot of effort.

Only 67 percent of Americans responded to the initial census survey by mail in 2000, and 72 percent in 2010. To get the rest, the Census Bureau dispatched half a million temporary census takers to visit houses up to six times in the hopes of speaking with someone in person — often hiring census takers from within the community, to reduce the anxiety of speaking to a government official.

If that didn’t work, they’d try to get information from neighbors about who was living in the silent house — and if that didn’t work, they’d have to do “nearest-neighbor imputation,” or basically assuming that the household looks identical to that of the most similar household nearby. The Supreme Court has ruled that imputation is okay because it’s just filling in known gaps in the data, rather than speculating about where the gaps would be.

Those methods don’t get everybody. Van Hook points out that people who return their census forms might not be telling the truth about how many people are in their household because they’re trying to protect, say, relatives who are unauthorized immigrants. Or a census respondent might not count a family friend who’s sleeping on the couch for a few weeks while he finds a job because he doesn’t really live at the house — but he doesn’t live anywhere else, either.

And then there are the places where people live that aren’t on the master list of addresses the Census Bureau pulls together at all. “They might live in the back of a restaurant, or a trailer in the back of the farmhouse,” places the Census Bureau doesn’t think are homes and therefore doesn’t send a survey to begin with.

Unsurprisingly, these sorts of problems are more likely to show up in certain groups than others. African Americans, particularly African-American men, have been undercounted in the past two censuses.

Judge in census case: New evidence alleging political motivation behind citizenship question 'raises a substantial issue'

Judge in census case: New evidence alleging political motivation behind citizenship question 'raises a substantial issue' In a blow to the Trump administration, a federal trial judge said Wednesday that he believes new evidence presented in a challenge to the 2020 census citizenship question "raises a substantial issue." require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); The decision could lead to reopening one of three federal trials into the citizenship question and lead to further examinations of Republican redistricting consultant Thomas Hofeller's role in developing the question.

So have Latinos, who were undercounted by 0.8 percent in 2000 and 1.5 percent in 2010. The Census Bureau says the change between the two censuses wasn’t statistically significant. But if the Latino response rate plummets in 2020, the undercount rate will soar.

The citizenship question might not damage response rates. But it’s a huge risk.

The Trump administration has rejected the idea that asking about citizenship is likely to create a substantial undercount that didn’t exist before.

“While there is widespread belief among many parties that adding a citizenship question could reduce response rates, the Census Bureau’s analysis did not provide definitive, empirical support for that belief,” the memo from Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says.

That’s true. There simply haven’t been any studies or experiments either way. And it’s totally possible that a citizenship question wouldn’t have that big an impact — whether because it wouldn’t matter that much or because immigrants will already be afraid of the census no matter what it’s asking.

The problem, say demographers and advocates, is that the government is risking a lot for the sake of getting this question back on the form.

Usually, census questions go through a pretesting process that can take years. But the 2020 census is already well past the development stage. As the Commerce Department announced the addition of a citizenship question, the Census Bureau was conducting its only full “dress rehearsal” field test for the 2020 census, in Providence, Rhode Island.

Advocates and researchers don’t have a ton of data to help them predict the impact of adding a question that’s never been tested. But for a social scientist, that in itself is reason for concern.

Read More

Judge in census case: New evidence alleging political motivation behind citizenship question 'raises a substantial issue'.
In a blow to the Trump administration, a federal trial judge said Wednesday that he believes new evidence presented in a challenge to the 2020 census citizenship question "raises a substantial issue." require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); The decision could lead to reopening one of three federal trials into the citizenship question and lead to further examinations of Republican redistricting consultant Thomas Hofeller's role in developing the question.

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