Justice Department official refuses to offer justification for adding citizenship question to the 2020 Census
A top U.S. Justice Department official recently refused to offer any justification for a decision to add an untested citizenship question to the 2020 Census. This comes after he failed to appear before a U.S. House of Representatives oversight committee during a scheduled hearing on the decision.
John Gore, acting head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, appeared before the committee voluntarily last Friday after committee chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) threatened to subpoena him when he failed to appear for the original hearing on May 8. Although Gore appeared voluntarily, he refused to make any statements beyond basic information the Justice Department had already made available to the general public. Committee Republicans voted down a motion to subpoena Gore and force him to answer members’ questions on the department’s rationale for including the citizenship question.
Colorado’s kids are counting on a fair and accurate Census, and experts are concerned that the addition of the citizenship question could depress response rates among immigrant families. Advocates, including the Children’s Campaign, submitted letters last month urging Congress to hold hearings on the decision to include a citizenship question on the Census questionnaire for the first time in 70 years.
Citizenship data are already available through the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which is distributed to a sample of American households every year. Although personally identifiable information collected through the Census is protected under the strictest privacy laws and cannot be provided to other federal agencies, Census Bureau researchers have already noted that immigrant families are increasingly reluctant to participate in important surveys. Without a full and accurate Census count, funding for programs critical to Colorado’s kids, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHP+ in Colorado), child care assistance and Head Start, will be diminished.