Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

Reps. Serrano, Meng Send Letter to Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross on Justice Department Proposal to Include Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

Jan 4, 2018
Press Release
Members Sit on House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee with Jurisdiction Over Funding for the Census Bureau and Department of Justice

Washington, DC – Congressman Serrano, Ranking Member of the House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee, and Congresswoman Grace Meng, a member of the subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau and the Department of Justice, today released the following statement in response to reports that the Department of Justice has proposed including a new question in the next Census asking household members’ citizenship status. The members sent a letter to the Secretary of the Department of Commerce Wilber Ross asking urging him to oppose the proposal and to look into this matter. Read a full text of the letter below.

“This is just the latest effort to drive immigrants back into the shadows. The 2020 Census will have immense policy implications for the next decade. An accurate 2020 Census is critical for the fair allocation of our government resources and for the future of our representative democracy. The Justice Department’s proposal to include a question asking individuals’ citizenship status is very troubling given its previous efforts to undermine the count and anti-immigrant policy record. Asking for individuals’ citizenship status, while seemingly menial and harmless, will only discourage immigrant families from filling out the form for fear of being targeted for deportation. As a country, we gain nothing by encouraging immigrants to live in the shadows. Our communities are safer and better functioning when we know who is here and how our population is changing over time. Getting Hispanics and other minorities to participate in the Census is already a challenge as it is. Instead of doing everything in its power to depress the numbers of Hispanics and other minorities living in our country --and ultimately in the electoral process --we should be doing more to ensure everyone living in this country is counted. I urge the Trump Administration to desist from these efforts immediately.  For the past several years we have been focusing on securing the necessary level of funding necessary for successful 2020 Census. This is the one area the Trump Administration, the Department of Commerce, and Republicans in Congress should be focusing to guarantee an accurate count,” said Congressman Serrano.  

“Requesting the addition of an untested question on citizenship to the 2020 census is a dangerous and reckless move by the Justice Department. Adding such a question will likely lower response rates, make the census more expensive, and add further complications to an already underfunded and underprepared Census Bureau. The Census Bureau should heed our concerns and refrain from adding this short-sighted and last minute question to the 2020 census,” said Congresswoman Meng.