It’s been in the news lately that the Census Bureau has been requesting data on Citizenship from all 50 states. We wanted to address it here so you can speak to this if it comes up in your agency. The requests are in response to an executive order issued by President Trump in July 2019 after the citizenship question was removed from the 2020 Census. Trump directed the Census Bureau to compile federal and, where possible, state administrative records to produce data on citizens and noncitizens. This is a voluntary request of states to participate in a one-way data sharing agreement with the Census Bureau. Not all states are complying with this request for driver’s license records (e.g., Maine, Illinois), and the Census Bureau still has to assess the quality and consistency of the data. See news coverage from NPR, the Washington Post, and CBS for more information.
It is up to us to ensure that our communities know the facts and are not deterred from participating in the 2020 Census. A few important things to remember:
- There will be NO citizenship question on the 2020 Census form.
- All data collected by the Census Bureau (including data collected via administrative record sharing agreements) are confidential and protected under federal law. The Census Bureau is not allowed to release individual data or personal responses to anyone, for any purpose – including to other government agencies or law enforcement. See more information about the federal laws that protect census confidentiality in this fact sheet from the Brennan Center.
- Responding to the Census will help ensure that our communities get their fair share of federal funds for programs like Medicaid, SNAP, Head Start, unemployment benefits, Section 8 housing vouchers, programs for seniors and veterans with disabilities, and school lunch programs. It also helps ensure that our communities have fair political representation, and enough money to build roads, hospitals, and schools.
- When communities are missed in the census, they lose out on funding, resources, and equal political representation. Everyone deserves to be counted.
- Participating in the census helps determine how many books and computers your kids’ school can afford, where companies bring new jobs, and whether there’s money to fix your communities’ roads.
- Ensuring an accurate census will help make sure your community is properly represented in Congress, state legislatures, and even city and county councils and local school boards.