The Next Census Could Include a Citizenship Question: Why This is Likely to Hurt Southern California

As we approach 2020, it is almost time for the next census. Under United States law, a national census is conducted once every 10 years. In a somewhat underreported move that occurred early in the administration, President Trump’s Commerce Department put a new rule into place that adds a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Recently, NBC Los Angeles published a story noting that demographic experts believe that the Trump Administration’s changes to the census are designed to undercount immigrants. Here, our Los Angeles immigration attorney explains why the citizenship question will hurt Southern California.    

Experts: Citizenship Question Likely to Lead to Undercounting of Immigrants

The census is supposed to count every person who is in the country. Since 1950, the census has not asked respondents questions about their immigration status or their citizenship status. There is no reason to do so: everyone who lives in an area, including non-citizens, should be counted.

However, President Trump’s Commerce Department suddenly changed the rules. For what reason? It is most likely to dissuade immigrants — especially undocumented immigrants — from responding to the census at all. Experts have been clear: this change is expected to result in a substantial undercounting of both immigrants and Latino-Americans. For states such as California, which has the highest total number and highest percentage of foreign-born residents in the entire country, the citizenship question will almost certainly result in a major undercounting of the population.

The Census Matters: Federal Funding and Representation Will Be Affected

The United States Census actually matters. It is not merely an academic count of the number of people who live in each city and state. While getting an accurate count is important in its own right, the results of the census will have a more direct, more consequential impact. Federal funding and federal representation are both based — in part — on census data. If Los Angeles residents are systematically undercounted because of the new question, a likely result of the Trump Administration’s rule change, then our region will be hurt.   

This is Not Over: California Has Filed a Lawsuit Against the Trump Administration

California is one of several states that have filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration to block the addition of a citizenship question. On January 7th, California’s lawsuit officially got underway. Should the states challenging the citizenship question prevail, it could still be removed from the 2020 census. That would be a considerable victory for immigrants, for Southern Californians, and for Latino-Americans — all of whom are all likely to be adversely affected by the Trump Administration’s rule change.

Get Help From Our Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer Today

At the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein, PC,  we fight for the legal rights of immigrants and their family members. If you or your loved one needs immigration law help, please call us today at (213) 262-2000 or contact us through our website. Consultations are always fully confidential. From our office in Los Angeles, we serve communities throughout Southern California.