Contact Us

Power and the People The U.S. Census and Who Counts

Citizenship Question

Including a question on U.S. citizenship became a very controversial issue for the 2020 Census. The Census has not asked every household about citizenship for 70 years. While experts within the Bureau stated this question would lead to an undercount of immigrants, the White House pressed for including it on the 2020 Census. Several states, led by New York, joined in a lawsuit and the U.S. Supreme Court decided against including the question in late June 2019. Finally, in mid-July 2019, the administration agreed not to include the question and stated they would seek the information from other sources. Still, there are concerns that non-citizens will participate in lower numbers in the Census.

“Is this person a citizen of the United States?”

The results “would be advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites."

The Constitution “requires an enumeration of the population,” and for the past seven decades the Census Bureau has strived to do this regardless of citizenship status. When the White House announced the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census, several states and groups, including California, sued the administration to block the question and prevent an undercount of the population.

Shortly after longtime Republican strategist Dr. Thomas Hofeller died in April 2019, his daughter found documents on his computer discussing how including a citizenship question on the Census would allow for Republican political gains through redistricting. Many are concerned this was the origin of the citizenship question.