Justice Department official refuses to offer justification for adding citizenship question to the 2020 Census

Written by: Sarah Hughes
Date Posted: May 25, 2018

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.

Stay tuned for more updates on the 2020 Census, and click here and here to read our previous KidsFlash stories about why the citizenship question is bad for kids and bad for Colorado.

Sarah Hughes

About Sarah Hughes

Sarah Hughes is the Research Director for the Colorado Children’s Campaign. In this role, she leads the organization’s research and data efforts – including the development and publication of the annual KIDS COUNT in Colorado! report. Prior to joining the Children’s Campaign, Sarah worked in PR and communications, as well as working directly with children and adolescents 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.