NNIRR Welcomes Supreme Court Ruling on Census: Let’s Get on to Mobilizing Immigrant Participation in Census 2020

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) welcomes the Supreme Court’s ruling that blocks–at least temporarily–the inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. Today’s decision sends the case back to a lower court where the Department of Commerce, which oversees the Census, is asked to clarify justification of its argument to include the citizenship question.

The legal delay impacts a July 1 “deadline” for getting Census 2020 production underway, but the status of the citizenship question is not a certainty at this point.

(In photo, Alameda County [CA] Complete Count Committee applauds Supreme Court decision, with community groups urging aggressive outreach efforts to ensure a fair and inclusive count of immigrant populations. photo credit: Uma Fry Demetria)

The inclusion of a citizenship question would seriously jeopardize the accuracy of all-important Census data. The Trump Administration’s insistence on the question–the first time it was proposed for inclusion since 1950–has been viewed as yet another attempt to undermine immigrant-based communities’ participation not only in the Census, but in civic life and in political representation and influence.

NNIRR Executive Director Catherine Tactaquin commented, “Immigrants have long been among the ‘hard-to-count’ populations in the Census, and we look forward to the citizenship question being permanently barred from the Census. The citizenship question would only add to fears of responding to the Census by undocumented and mixed-immigration status households; even though there are strong privacy protections that prevent Census data from being shared with other government agencies, that can be little comfort to communities that are being targeted for immigration raids.”

The mere presence of the question could intimidate millions of immigrants from completing the constitutionally mandated survey, resulting in a drastically skewed Census with immediate and long term consequences. The data collected from the Census determines congressional apportionment for the next decade, and is used to help determine the allocation of billions in federal funding for services, infrastructure and other needs at multiple levels.

Countless immigrant rights and other organizations, including NNIRR, are already working with local Census outreach committees and in coalitions to ensure a fair and inclusive count next year. Community outreach and education by “trusted messengers”, allies, public officials and more is being encouraged early to target  many hard-to-count populations. The current threat of deportation raids adds to concerns. In 2010, hundreds of organizations joined NNIRR in calling for the Department of Homeland Security to suspend immigration raids and other aggressive actions prior to and during the Census–a demand that we will renew for Census 2020.

For more information, visit NNIRR’s webpage on Census 2020. Check back regularly for news updates, community outreach tools and advocacy initiatives.