On March 26, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce (the “Department”) announced that the 2020 Census would include a question on citizenship status. The Census has not asked respondents of their citizenship status since 1950.
The California Asian Pacific American Bar Association together with the undersigned bar associations is concerned that inclusion of a question on citizenship will negatively impact the accuracy of the Census. Since 1980, both the Census Bureau and all of its living former directors have repeatedly warned that questioning residents’ immigration status would “inevitably jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count” by significantly deterring participation in immigrant communities because of concerns about how the federal government will use citizenship information. Fed’n for Am. Immigration Reform v. Klutznick, 486 F. Supp. 564, 658 (D.D.C. 1980). The deterrent effect of this question is only amplified by the current political climate, which is generally viewed as anti-immigrant.
These fears are not unfounded. Historian Margo J. Anderson at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and statistician William Seltzer of Fordham University discovered evidence that officials utilized citizenship data collected in the 1940 Census to target Japanese Americans leading up to their internment during World War II. In fact, documents show officials from the Census Bureau relaxed confidentiality provisions in order to disclose block-by-block information on the location of individuals of Japanese origin.
The outcome of the Census is vital to ensure adequate representation and is determinative of billions of dollars of federal funding. Today, 59% of the Asian community in the United States were born in another country. That amount increases to 73% among Asian adults. Our community has the potential to be drastically undercounted if households refuse to respond to the Census out of fear, a fear that has proven to be justified. We urge the Department to reconsider its inclusion of a citizenship question in the Census in order to preserve accuracy for this constitutionally required count of our populous.
CALIFORNIA ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
ASIAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF THE GREATER BAY AREA
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF LOS ANGELES COUNTY
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF SILICON VALLEY
ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN WOMEN LAWYERS ALLIANCE
ASIAN/PACIFIC BAR ASSOCIATION OF SACRAMENTO
KOREAN AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF SAN DIEGO
PAN ASIAN LAWYERS OF SAN DIEGO
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA CHINESE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION
THAI AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
VIETNAMESE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA