Skip to main content

SPLC: Citizenship question in 2020 Census will chill responses, incite fear

Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census form will serve no useful purpose, but will trigger mistrust, depress response rates, debase the quality of the information gathered, and increase the cost to taxpayers, the SPLC said in comments submitted today to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The SPLC urged the government to drop the proposal, citing an “atmosphere of extreme fear in immigrant communities” stemming from the Trump administration’s aggressive enforcement actions and President Trump’s own incendiary words about immigrants.

The SPLC cited the experience of Alabama, which enacted a law in 2011 that required a citizenship question for children enrolling in public school. On the first Monday after the law took effect, more than 2,000 Latino students were absent from schools across the state.

“Many families in immigrant communities fear being targeted by a government willing to tear apart families and cage the children of asylum seekers,” the SPLC wrote. “In this context, a citizenship question will chill response rates, particularly among communities—such as low-income rural and urban families, people of color, and immigrant families—that are already at greater risk of being undercounted.”

The SPLC’s comments can be read below.

A commentary by SPLC President Richard Cohen can be read here.