Citizenship Question Won’t Be Most Pernicious Aspect of US Census

By: James Bovard

The hubbub over the Trump administration’s proposal to ask respondents about citizenship in the 2020 Census is mystifying because the response is so far out of proportion to the White House’s request. But the dispute is obscuring a much greater peril that the Census Bureau poses to Americans.

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Former Attorney General Eric Holder denounced adding a citizenship question to the Census questionnaire as “motivated purely by politics.” By contrast, the Obama administration’s push to expand the Census to ask if respondents were gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender was non-political, right? Holder declaimed that the citizenship question “is a direct attack on our representative democracy.” But how can representative democracy be subverted by getting an accurate count of people who may be ineligible to vote?

From 1890 through 2000 (excluding the 1960 Census), the long version of the Census form asked about citizenship status, as the Census’s American Community Survey, received by around 3.5 million households each year, currently does. At what point did inquiries about citizenship become the moral equivalent of a “direct attack” on our country?…

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But the Census Bureau has a long history of betraying respondents. In the early 1940s, the Census brazenly violated federal law by providing key information on 120,000 Japanese Americans so that the Army could round them up for internment camps. The detentions were among the worst civil liberties violations in modern U.S. history.

For more than 60 years, the Census lied about its role in this debacle, even boasting that it had done nothing to betray people who were wrongfully corralled. 

Read the full article at The Hill

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