Muslim Advocates Calls Proposed Addition of “Citizenship” Question to 2020 Census “Illegal and Irresponsible”

Washington, DC – Today, Muslim Advocates filed an official comment to the U.S. Department of Commerce opposing the agency’s efforts to add a question about citizenship status to the decennial census in 2020.  The census has not included any questions about citizenship since 1950, and a bipartisan coalition of former census directors, members of Congress, state and local elected officials, and civil rights groups have all opposed the addition of a citizenship question.This supplementary question would undoubtedly result in a significant undercount of minority communities, especially members of populations that the Trump Administration has explicitly targeted, such as immigrants and Muslims.  Click here to read the letter.

“The addition of a citizenship question is an illegal and irresponsible politicization of the census that will undermine its fundamental purpose and violate important constitutional protections,” said Sirine Shebaya, senior staff attorney at Muslim Advocates. “A citizenship question on the census would have years-long ripple effects for funding, resources, and community building.  Its proposed addition is yet another prong in the administration’s systematic war on immigrants, American Muslims, and people of color.”

As the letter concludes, “The inclusion of the citizenship question on the 2020 census violates longstanding constitutional and statutory protections, and further alienates immigrant communities of color in this country. It will result in an undercount of minority communities, including American Muslim communities, which will skew the collection of demographic data used in federal funding determinations and will lead to an inequitable distribution of federal resources. We urge the Census Bureau to reconsider its unjustifiable stance, withdraw the notice, and return to a short-form decennial census without a citizenship question.”

Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.