Proposed Adjustments to the Census Undermine Goal of a Full and Inclusive Count

Monday, February 5, 2018

Proposed tweaks and adjustments to the Census continue to undermine the goal of ensuring a full and inclusive count in the 2020 Census. The exact questions that are to be asked on the 2020 Census are being debated.

According to NPR, the Census Bureau is now expected to maintain the seperate racial and ethnic questions used in the 2010 Census, rather than switching to a combined race and ethnicity question that could have provided more nuance. This shift to a combined question was recommended by Census Bureau staff after extensive research focused on how to collect more accurate data in these areas. If this combined question had been adopted, Americans that identify as Middle Eastern or North African would have been able to more accurately identify themselves, rather than being lumped into the 'white' category. This shift would likely have meant that America would appear 'less white' in the Census data, and it is hypothesized that this is a significant reason why the Trump administration would like to maintain the 2010 questions.

While the Census Bureau is unlikely to adjust the race and ethnicity questions to deliver this more nuanced understanding of demographics in the United States, there is a new question under consideration: adding a question about citizenship to the Census. This is part of a deliberate campaign to undermine the Census and it is coming from sources such as Breitbart, which is affiliated with white nationalists. Adding an untested question about citizenship threatens to undermine a full count and could serve as a deterrant to non-citizens from filling out the Census. The Census is meant to count everyone in the United States, regardless of citizenship status. 

In addition to considering questions that may lead to an undercount of people of color in the United States, the Census Bureau has also announced that it will only hire U.S. citizens as Census takers, according to the Washington Post. This may be another indicator that counting non-citizens isn't a high priority to the administration.

MCF is advocating for a fully inclusive and accurate census count in Minnesota in 2020 by coordinating the Minnesota Census Mobilization ParnershipJoin the Partnership to stay routinely informed and find out how you can help with the 2020 count in MN.

Find More By
News type 
Funding Area