Friday, March 30, 2018
"Not only is the constitutionally mandated census central to apportioning political power at every level of our representative form of government, but also the data collected influences the allocation of more than $675 billionin federal funds every year, along with countless policy and investment decisions by government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private enterprise.
The Supreme Court in 2016 ruled unanimously that “representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote,” and the Constitution makes clear that the census has a clear purpose: to count all U.S. residents, regardless of background, as the basis for the apportionment of political power. The Census Bureau spent most of this decade responding to this mandate, leading painstaking research, technology development and question testing. With their belated interference, Trump and Sessions are upending this meticulous preparation.
The harm from this decision, if it’s not reversed, will be expensive and long-lasting. This cavalier action will drive down response rates and drive up costs, as the Census Bureau tries to incorporate this untested question with little time to spare, develop new communications and outreach strategies, plan for the expanded field operation and count the millions of people who will be more reluctant to participate because of the addition of this controversial question.
Even before this disastrous decision, local officials and community leaders were deeply concerned about the difficulty of achieving a robust response in some communities, given a political climate in which immigrants are demonized and families live in fear of loved ones being plucked off the streets and deported. Adding a question about citizenship status into the mix can only heighten suspicions, depress response rates and sabotage the accuracy of the 2020 count. This decision would affect everyone, with communities that are already at greater risk of being undercounted — including people of color, young children, and low-income rural and urban residents — suffering the most.
What is the benefit here? The false justification offered by Sessions and his Justice Department, and repeated in Ross’s decision memo, is that this question is critical for Voting Rights Act enforcement. That argument is a bitter lie, laced with cruel irony. Consider that this is the same Sessions who has called the Voting Rights Act “intrusive” and has shown no compunction in flouting voting rights enshrined in law..."
The bitter lie behind the census’s citizenship question - The Washington Post