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Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

Representing the District of Columbia

Places in Washington DC

Norton Exposes Trump Administration’s Added Citizenship Question to 2020 Census as Aimed at a Lower Count of Hispanic and Other Immigrant U.S. Residents

May 8, 2018
Press Release

Watch Norton’s Hearing Questioning

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today at an Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the 2020 census exposed the Department of Commerce’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census as simply conceding to a Department of Justice request to include the citizenship status question in order to reduce response rates from immigrant residents and Americans of color.  Norton has introduced a bill to prohibit the Census Bureau from including questions on citizenship, nationality or immigration status on the 2020 census questionnaire and thereafter.

Norton questioned officials about the process leading up to the addition of the question, emphasizing that the census has not included a citizenship question for the past 70 years.  The American Community Survey already uses a statistically proven method to get reliable responses on citizenship status.  Norton also noted that career officials at the Census Bureau “expressed concern” that adding a citizenship question “could reduce the accuracy of the decennial census and increase costs for non-response follow up,” and that Secretary Wilbur Ross said “the Department was not able to determine definitely how the inclusion of a citizenship question on the decennial census will impact responsiveness.”

Norton asked Robert Goldenkoff, Director of Strategic Issues, Census Issues, at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, about his previous testimony to the House Appropriations Committee, when he said that there are “risks associated with late changes of any nature to the design of the census if the Bureau is unable to test those changes under operational conditions.”  Norton asked Goldenkoff whether or not he thinks there are risks associated with the late addition of a citizenship question because the Bureau was unable to test the question under operational conditions.  Goldenkoff responded that “any change, whether it is a change to the content, change to the program, when it occurs late in the lifecycle of the census and is not operationally tested raises risks.  You don’t know what you don’t know.”