July 04, 2019

President Trump insists citizenship question will appear on US Census

President Trump insists citizenship question will appear on US Census

On Tuesday, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the 2020 census questionnaires would be printed without a controversial citizenship question after the Supreme Court temporarily blocked its inclusion last week. 

However, on Wednesday, President Trump tweeted: “We are absolutely moving forward [with its inclusion], as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.”

“[N]aturalization provides immigrants with more rights in the host country and also strengthens their commitment toward that country,” according to IZA World of Labor author Christina Gathmann. She explains that “the option to naturalize has considerable economic benefits for eligible immigrants, even in countries with a tradition of restrictive policies. First-generation immigrants who are naturalized have higher earnings and more stable jobs.”

Americans as a whole have not been asked whether they are a citizen of the US on the census, which is used to determine electoral districts and federal funding totalling hundreds of billions of dollars, since 1950—although some subsets of the population were asked between 1970 and 2000.

The Trump administration has argued that a citizenship question would bolster protections for minority voters; but, Democrats and civil rights groups believe it could ultimately lead to millions of people—mostly Latinos and African Americans—not being counted.

The Supreme Court said in its ruling the government’s justification for including the question seemed “contrived.”

In Chiara Strozzi’s IZA World of Labor article, she calls for a new concept of citizenship, one which “is not based on cultural belonging or on nationality and does not have an ethno-nationalistic conception.” Strozzi feels that people should be recognized “as mobile individuals who are interconnected and interdependent across national boundaries. Citizenship and the associated rights and duties should be based predominantly on the principle of residence in a territory, thus encouraging migrant self-determination and integration.”

Tight print deadlines and legal complexities mean the Trump administration is facing a difficult battle to include the citizenship question. The census papers will reportedly be printed without it while officials examine their options.