June 27, 2019

Neighbors Link is gratified that for now, the Supreme Court has not allowed the Trump Administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census. However, the fight is not over and we must continue to work to ensure that the Census does not include a question that will actively discourage anyone from participating.

The purpose of the census is to count every person living in the U.S. It is not intended to count the number of U.S. citizens. No action that discourages participation should be tolerated. An accurate count of the U.S. population is important because a wide range of government services and spending allocations are based on the numbers and demographic characteristics of people living in a given geographic area of the country. The census provides that information. Also important is the fact that nearly every organization in the country, whether public, private, or nonprofit, uses census data to calculate how they can best serve their constituents. Recipients of those services include everyone from customers to consumers, from volunteers to voters, and from infants to the elderly. The consequences of an undercount can be dire. For example, a city that has a large population of people who are afraid to complete the census will be judged as much smaller than it actually is. It will be seen as having less need for federal and state funding in a variety of important areas, such as economic development projects, housing subsidies, and school funding. That city could experience shortages that harm its entire population for years to come.

Bad census data will hurt everyone. Looking forward, we hope that the Administration and the Commerce Department in particular, will refrain from devising other ways that may discourage non-citizens from participating in the census, which is a critical data collection tool that the entire nation relies upon to be accurate.