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Why Reinstating the Citizenship Question on the Census Is So Evil

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 27, 2018 |

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | March 27, 2018 |


Yesterday, we learned that the Trump administration will reinstate the Citizenship question on the 2020 census, a question that was stricken from the census way back in 1950, and for good reason. Because that single question not only will generate the wrong results, it will stoke fears among the immigrant population. You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Wilbur Ross and Jeff Sessions — who have a combined age of 472 — are behind this change.

If that question is on the test, what will happen is this: Out-of-status immigrants and residents who are not citizens will steer clear of census workers. In other words, they won’t be counted because they will rightfully fear that if they answer the citizenship question honestly, they might be deported.

Ultimately, what this means is that only citizens — and not residents — of the United States will be counted, which means that the millions of out-of-status immigrants will not count. That means that in a place like California, the actual population and the census population could be off by millions.

That also means that the census population in most cities will not be an accurate assessment of the actual number of people in those cities. Congressional maps will, therefore, be redrawn to strip representation from the cities and large immigrant communities. It will result in more “Republican” districts, and the minority will be able to continue rule over the majority.

In short: It’s just another transparent way to keep white men in power, just like gerrymandering, just like the eroding divide between church and state, just like closing the polls early or removing polling stations from areas with higher concentrations of people of color. Farmer John and his wife Peggy can walk into the church down the street and vote in under 5 minutes. If you live in a Black Community in a large city, you’re probably going to have to take a bus and then stand in line for 3 hours and miss half a day’s work to register your vote.

It’s not fair, but if we’re going to change it, we gotta stand in line for three hours. And look: I don’t have to tell any of you this, but the midterms are as, or more, important than the next Presidential election. Look what happened in 2010. The Tea Party creamed us, and for the last eight years, they have been able to dictate how Congressional maps have been drawn, and they have drawn them in a way to keep themselves in power. Democrats can’t simply get more votes than Republicans to take back the House; they have to get millions more votes. The deck is stacked against us, and yet we have to overturn the deck not just to control the agenda in 2019 and 2020, but the entire 2020s.

If you’re a progressive, the midterms have never been more important.

The good news is, California has already brought suit against the Trump administration over the citizenship question, and at least according to the California attorney general, the question is “illegal.” We’ll find out how the courts decide the matter.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.