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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 4/27/19

The Lasting Damage The 2020 Census Citizenship Question Could Do

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"Is this person a citizen of the United States?"

How will you answer this question when it's time to complete the 2020 census form?

How do you feel about being asked?

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The United States Supreme Court is poised to provide responses to this seemingly innocuous question in a major case that could alter the country's political landscape for decades.

Last March, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the citizenship question was being added after a request from the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ), supposedly to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibiting discriminatory voting practices and/or procedures.

The federal government's justification for the inquiry is so it can better ascertain the nation's demographics, as is delineated in article one, section two of the Constitution.

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Behind Ross' announcement, however, is none other than Kris Kobach, former Kansas Secretary of State, the mastermind behind the racist voter-purging "Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program," and the one and only former White House adviser, Steve Bannon.

This led to a lawsuit from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, citing the question violates the Constitution and federal laws. Several states followed suit in an attempt to get the question eliminated on the grounds it aims to deter immigrants from responding, thereby affecting state and local funds and redrawing congressional district maps the Census is used to determine.

But the nation's highest court--or at least its 5-4 conservative majority--indicated during arguments on Tuesday it plans to grant the Trump administration the green light.

The impacts of such a measure are potentially devastating.

For example, take a heavily populated state like California, which is home to millions of immigrants.

If enough residents choose to abstain from the Census, the state's population will be undercounted, resulting in fewer congressional seats and less money allocated for infrastructure investments and other public expenditures, like schools, fire departments, police protection, etc.

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Professor of sociology and demography at Pennsylvania State University, Jennifer Lynne Van Hook, argues:

"If the census counts are biased or flawed, this could affect the number of representatives states have in the House of Representatives"If adding the citizenship question reduces coverage of the foreign-born population, it could reduce the amount of federal and state resources allocated to communities that have large shares of immigrants, and it could also reduce representation of states with large numbers of immigrants."

But California is, of course, not the only immigrant-rich setting. Every state in the union faces the same consequences simply out of immigrants' fears of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

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Ted Millar is poet and teacher. His poetry has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Liberal America and Liberal Nation (more...)
 

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b. sadie bailey

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this is nothing more than a ploy, not only to purge minority and immigrant voters, but a more dangerous ploy to get names of people who can potentially be deported. That's what this is really about.

We should all do the census and refuse to answer that question or find some way to show our displeasure with that question in this obvious racial profiling and setting up immigrants to fear deportation and their children being molested and "lost" (trafficked!) in detention centers. Makes me damn angry.

Besides; what does it matter where they're from? If they have to pay taxes here, they should have the right not only to vote, but to be protected from ICE and their families being separated by ethnic-"cleansing" - let's call this by its true name.

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 at 3:26:07 PM

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June Genis

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The Constitution authorizes a census solely for the purpose of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives. All other demographic questions are unconstitutional. I have been refusing to answer them for over 40 years. I'm still waiting for them to come after me. I urge others to resist as well.

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 at 4:05:22 PM

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b. sadie bailey

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so do you think advocates for immigration can try to ease the fears of refugees and immigrants so that they will do the census - if ICE really can't come after them? how can we know for sure that they won't? because if gerrymandering/ redistricting happens, it's NEVER in favor of representing them and minorities; it's also notoriously not in favor or coastal populations, where the majority of the people live; hence the electoral college gerrymandering.

i'm with you; i'll leave any invasive "none of their business" questions blank - but could the administration and supreme court take it farther, and purge from voting lists anyone who leaves the citizen question blank - or can they do even worse? i would not rule out that it may be a goal of gerrymanderers and other scoundrels to push us further toward feudal dictatorship. they're trying for sure.

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 at 4:22:55 PM

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June Genis

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Unfortunately these days no one can tell what the Supreme court is likely to do and anyone who refuses to answer just the question on citizenship will be the most likely targets of administration action. Probably the safest path for any undocumented immigrant is to not respond to the census at all. Technically that too is a criminal action but its likely harder to prove as a deliberate action. I haven't had to respond to the last 2 censuses because as a fulltime RVer they never tracked me down. I've now settled down in a permanent location. I'm waiting to see what will happen.

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 at 5:19:50 PM

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watchpocket

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Right on b. sadie bailey. I have my answers for however they decide to ask the question. I would offer some examples but OEN would not print them. With due regard to the Administrative Procedures Act I will make it very clear what I think of this administration.

Submitted on Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 at 6:56:25 PM

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