250,000 urge Commerce Department to remove unnecessary citizenship question from 2020 Census

Written by: Sarah Hughes
Date Posted: August 10, 2018

The first window for providing public comment on the 2020 Census data collection closed earlier this week, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights reports that more than 250,000 individuals and organizations across the country submitted comments or signed on to comment letters urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to remove an untested, unnecessary question about citizenship status from the 2020 Census questionnaire that will go to every household in the country.

The Leadership Conference reports that more than 1,000 individual public comments were submitted from Colorado through the CensusCounts.org website, and many more were submitted directly to the Federal Register or through other avenues. This is a robust response and demonstrates the depth and breadth of organizations and individuals who rely on a fair and accurate census count. See below to read the Children’s Campaign’s comment letter on why the citizenship question is bad for kids and bad for our state.

The Commerce Department must now consider and respond to public comments before submitting the proposed 2020 Census questions to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). There will be a second public comment period after the questions are submitted to OMB, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act. Advocates around the nation are using this process to fight bad changes to our federal systems and surveys by slowing—and hopefully stopping—action that sets children and families back.

As we’ve previously reported, experts predict that including an unnecessary question about citizenship status on the 2020 Census will discourage millions of households from filling out their census forms, undercounting our nation’s kids and underfunding essential programs for the next decade. Census Bureau experts have historically cautioned against including a citizenship question on the decennial census since it was removed after 1950. And the citizenship question is unnecessary, given that data on citizenship status are already available through the American Community Survey.

Young children are already more likely to be missed by the census than any other age group, and the citizenship question would likely exacerbate this undercount. When Colorado kids aren’t counted, our state risks losing billions of dollars for programs like Head Start, Medicaid and the National School Lunch Program, and the data that child advocates and policymakers rely on will be skewed for the next 10 years. Stay tuned to KidsFlash for more opportunities to ensure a full, fair and accurate count of Colorado children in 2020.

Sarah Hughes

About Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is Vice President of Research Initiatives for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she leads the organization’s research and data analysis efforts, including the development and publication of the annual KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report, and provides research and data support to inform and advance the Children’s Campaign’s policy agenda. She also co-chairs the organization’s internal Equity Team. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, Sarah worked in communications and spent several years working and volunteering with kids in various capacities. She holds a Master of Social Work with a specialization in Advocacy, Leadership and Social Change from the University of Illinois and a B.S. in Business and Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis. She lives in Denver with her husband and their two crazy dogs.