October 1, 2018 Latinx

Debunking the Myths about the Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census Form

MYTH #1: The Constitution says to only count citizens.

This is incorrect. The U.S. Constitution requires a census every 10 years of all persons living in the country for the purpose of apportioning seats in the U.S. House of Representatives (Article I, sec. 2, clause 3) among the states. The Constitution explicitly requires an “actual Enumeration” of “all persons,” imposing on the federal government the duty to count the “whole number of persons in each State.”

Both Republican and Democratic administrations, through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), have confirmed unequivocally that the Constitution requires a count of all persons living in the United States on Census Day, regardless of citizenship status. Moreover, in adopting the 14th Amendment, Congress rejected proposals to allocate seats in the House of Representatives based on voter-eligible population alone, rather than total population.

Supreme Court rulings affirming the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal representation require that congressional districts have equal numbers of people, so the census population numbers also are used to draw congressional district lines. Public officials also rely on census counts to draw state and local voting districts.