Five Reasons Why Trump’s Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census is Disastrous for Our Country

By: Leigh Chapman, Senior Policy Advisor at Let America Vote

The Trump Administration quietly announced they are adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The Census is designed to take a fair and accurate count of everyone living in the United States — not just citizens. President Trump and Republicans are trying to use it as a political weapon to consolidate their power, intimidate communities, skew legislative districts, and deprive some states of necessary funding.

Here are five reasons why adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census is dangerous. If you want to take action to demand the removal of the citizenship question, text CENSUS to 44939.

Trump photo by Gage Skidmore

 1. Participation in the Census will decline.
Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census will cause participation to plummet. Overall participation rates will decline, and at a time when the Trump Administration is targeting individuals based on their immigration status, experts say legal permanent residents, undocumented immigrants, and their families will be less likely to complete the census. (i)

2. Congressional representation will be skewed for some states.
A drop in participation could have a negative impact on Congressional representation. States with large immigrant populations like California could potentially lose Congressional seats. A full census helps ensure districts are drawn accurately so there is fair representation.

3. It will cost taxpayers more money.
Counting the entire population in the United States is a massive undertaking. If people are less likely to respond because of the citizenship question, the U.S. Census Bureau will need to spend more resources to try to obtain an accurate count. 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 2020 Census.

4. Contrary to Trump’s lies, the citizenship question will not help enforce the Voting Rights Act.
The Trump Administration is falsely using the Voting Rights Act (VRA) as a justification to add the citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The Department of Justice (DOJ) has routinely used information obtained by the American Community Survey for VRA enforcement to determine citizen voting age population for enforcement cases. Since Trump has taken office, not a single Section 2 VRA enforcement case has been filed.

Additionally, the Trump Administration has shown that protecting voting rights and enforcing the VRA is not a priority. His focus has been suppressing the vote instead of finding ways to expanding access to the ballot box — from switching sides in the Texas voter ID case to supporting Ohio’s sweeping purges of the voter rolls. Claiming adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census will help his administration protect voting rights is a blatant lie.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted in the 2016 Evenwel v. Abbott case, members of Congress represent everyone in their district, not just the voters. Ginsberg stated, “As the framers of the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment comprehended, representatives serve all residents, not just those eligible or registered to vote.” (ii)

It’s mandated in the Constitution that everyone is counted, not just citizens.

5. Allocation of federal grants and resources will suffer.
Billions of dollars in federal grants and resources are allocated every year based on census data, like funds for Medicaid, housing, education, assistance for veterans, hospitals, and transportation — just to name a few. If the 2020 Census count is inaccurate, communities could be shorted necessary funding.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 37 states lost a median of $1,091 in fiscal 2015 for each person missed in the 2010 Census. (iii) Experts says the citizenship question will deter and intimidate immigrant communities, which could result in billions of dollars in lost funding.
Adding the citizenship question to the Census is dangerous for voting rights and the livelihood of our communities. You can take action by texting CENSUS to 44939 to demand Congressional leaders work for an accurate and fair 2020 Census and that the citizenship question be removed.

i. Sam Adler-Bell, Count Down: How the Trump Administration Is Botching Its Only Trial Run for the 2020 Census, The Intercept (Mar. 31, 2018),
ii. Evenwel v. Abbott, 136 S. Ct. 1120, 294 (2016)
iii. Mike Maciag, A Census Citizenship Question Wouldn’t Just Impact Blue States, Governing (Mar. 28, 2018),