Census 2020 Citizenship Question Talking Points

On March 26, 2018, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that he had directed the Census Bureau to add an untested and unnecessary question to the 2020 Census form, which would ask the citizenship status of every person in America. There is still time to fix this. The Census Bureau has time before it must finalize the online and paper form for the census questionnaire. The public comments process that begins with the notice published in the Federal Register this summer will allow stakeholders and experts who oppose the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census to establish a strong, clear public record and convey the broad public opposition to this misguided decision.

Talking Points

The following talking points are designed to help you communicate why this was a bad decision and why it must be corrected. 

This alarming decision is bad for the census, bad for our communities, and bad for America.

  • Conducting a census with major untested elements will force the Census Bureau to conduct the count with a blindfold on. The Census Bureau conducted careful, costly research and testing over the last eight years to develop the census questions. The addition of this new and controversial question invalidates that research and risks jeopardizing the success of the count.
  • The unwise addition of this citizenship question to the form will cause participation in the upcoming census to plummet. Asking every household and every person in the country about their citizenship status in the current political environment – when there is no programmatic basis or need to do so – will cause panic and will cause hundreds of thousands of people in our communities to avoid the census for fear of being targeted by this administration.
  • This question is unnecessarily intrusive and will raise concerns in all households –native- and foreign-born, citizen and non-citizen – about the confidentiality of their personal information and how government authorities may use that information.

Getting the 2020 Census right is important for all American communities – particularly those most likely to be undercounted. This politically driven citizenship question compromises the Census Bureau’s constitutional responsibility to conduct a fair and accurate count of every person living in the United States.

  • Everyone relies on census data. Census data are the basis for fair political representation. Local community leaders use this data to make decisions about allocating resources for community needs like education, assistance for veterans, hospitals, and transportation. Businesses and entrepreneurs use census data to make critical decisions about where to locate plants and stores, hiring, and customer needs.
  • Secretary Ross’ rationale for adding an untested citizenship question so late in the process is a disservice to the integrity and scientific stature of the Census Bureau, tarnishing one of the world’s most respected statistical agencies. Millions of people rely on the Census Bureau to provide accurate, comprehensive data about our nation that impact us all – and there are no do-overs.
  • The costs of adding an untested question this late in the process to taxpayers is significant. According to the Census Bureau, every one percent decrease in the self- response rate will increase the cost of the count by $55 million. A five percent drop in self-response would add an additional, unplanned $275 million to the census.

Social Media 

Please share widely with your clients, supporters, and social media followers. We need as many comments as possible.

Adding a citizenship question to the #2020Census will discourage participation and threaten the accuracy of the count. Tell Secretary Wilbur Ross that adding the citizenship question is a terrible idea: http://bit.ly/2020ILCountMeIn #ILCountMeIn2020

A fair and accurate #2020Census is essential for all basic functions of our society, but an untested citizenship question would jeopardize the quality and accuracy of census data for ALL communities. Take action now to have it removed: http://bit.ly/2020ILCountMeIn #ILCountMeIn2020 #SaveTheCensus

The #2020Census citizenship question is untimely, unnecessary, and untested – and you have the power to speak out against it. Submit a public comment now and let the Department of Commerce know that the question is a danger to the count. http://bit.ly/2020ILCountMeIn #ILCountMeIn2020 #SaveTheCensus

The untested #2020Census citizenship question must not stand. It will jeopardize the accuracy of the count in all communities – an outcome that the nation will have to live with for the next TEN years. Take action today to #SaveTheCensus: http://bit.ly/2020ILCountMeIn #ILCountMeIn2020

Getting the #2020Census right is important to everyone. Join us in raising our collective voices to ensure the count is fair and accurate. Submit a public comment today: http://bit.ly/2020ILCountMeIn #ILCountMeIn2020 #SaveTheCensus

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E-Newsletter Blurb

In March, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, with the support of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ anti-immigrant Department of Justice, announced that he had directed the Census Bureau to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

Adding the citizenship question is bad for the census, bad for our communities, and bad for America.

Comment Period: Now-August 7, 2018

Have your organization write and submit a comment. We need to show the breadth of voices in opposition to the citizenship question. Ask your constituents and supporters to submit a unique comment as well at censuscounts.org. Amplify on social media. Use the graphics, sample messages, and the hashtag #SaveTheCensus and #ILCountMeIn2020 to oppose the citizenship question and encourage comment submission.