On Friday, Christian Adams posted an article at PJ Media about the proposed change to the census questions. The proposal is to add a question to the U.S. Census asking the person filling out the census about their citizenship status.
An article posted at The Washington Examiner on March 28 details some of the history of the question.
The article reports:
When the census switched to sending out two different census forms, the short form and the long form, the long form (which went to one out of every six households) contained a citizenship question as demonstrated by the 2000 form.
The long form was discontinued after the 2000 census and replaced with the American Community Survey. The U.S. Census Bureau sends out the ACS “on a rotating basis through the decade,” but it goes to only one in 38 households, according to the Census Bureau, which uses it to provide only “estimates of demographic” characteristics. It contains a citizenship question — which neither Holder nor Becerra has ever complained about. Holder certainly did not act to stop its use when he was the attorney general. But using the very limited ACS data is problematical because it is “extrapolated based on sample surveys,” according to Kelley.
The Commerce Department consulted with so-called “stakeholders” who opposed adding the citizenship question before it made its decision. As Kelly pointed out, however, many of the opponents did not know “that the question had been asked in some form or another for nearly 200 years.” They were also apparently not aware of the accuracy problems with the very limited ACS survey.
So what is the impact of asking the question? PJ Media notes:
In many urban areas, blacks compete with Hispanics for local office, particularly in Democratic Party primaries. Miami, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Chicago are places where local Democratic Party politics have deep African-American and Hispanic constituencies. In November, they are rock-solid Democrat voters to defeat Republicans. But in primaries, they often compete.
More importantly, the two groups also compete in line-drawing exercises, where districts are created for school board, county council, statehouse, and Congress. Racial line-drawing — an exercise compelled by the Voting Rights Act whether you like it or not — is reality. Racial line-drawing relies on census data, and each district must have essentially equal population under existing law.
This line drawing counts non-citizen Hispanics to generate Hispanic-majority districts with the minimum total population (citizen and non-citizen combined). But blacks have to ride in the back of the redistricting bus, because they are almost all citizens.
So in essence, the citizenship question on the census restores representation to the black community in places where there are large numbers of non-citizens. That alone is a really good reason to return the question to the census.