In June 2019, the Supreme Court will release its opinion on cases challenging Commerce Secretary Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The Trump administration in 2018 authorized adding an untested and dangerous citizenship question to the 2020 Census — a move that could spur severe undercounts of communities of color and immigrants.
Regardless of the Court’s decision to include a citizenship question, we will continue our work to ensure maximum participation and inclusion in the 2020 Census—particularly among hard-to-count communities like people of color, urban and low-income households, immigrants, limited-English proficient populations, and young children.
The Census Bureau conducts the census every ten years and the data collected have an impact on the future of our communities. These data help to determine how the federal government distributes more than $800 billion annually — shaping where government officials build schools, roads and hospitals, and fund other essential programs and services. The census is also used to apportion congressional representation among the States and ensure equal representation through redistricting.
General Talking Points:
- Getting the census right is important for all American communities, particularly those most likely to be undercounted.
- Unlike other changes that have undergone extensive testing before being incorporated into the 2020 Census, the citizenship question is untested, last-minute, and unnecessary. It jeopardizes the success of the 2020 Census because it increases the likelihood of a massive undercount.
- The U.S. Constitution requires a fair and accurate count of every person living in the United States. Adding an untested citizenship question in the 2020 Census will make it much harder for the Census Bureau to meet this goal.
- The last-minute addition of a citizenship question will hurt everyone. When anyone is not counted in the census, their entire community and their state suffers the consequences. If immigrants and noncitizens are too scared to answer the census because they fear detention or deportation, everyone in their community loses political power and federal funding for vital services for the next ten years.
- Our opposition to this attempt to weaponize the census is rooted in our commitment to ensuring that vulnerable communities are not robbed of their right to a fair share of resources and equitable representation in our democratic institutions.
- The Census Bureau already collects citizenship data through the American Community Survey and, previously, the census long form, which have been used to enforce the Voting Rights Act since that law’s passage more than 60 years ago.
- We will not be silenced. We will stand up for the representation and resources our communities deserve.
Resources for Coalition Members and Allies
Calls to Action:
- Join Us: Pledge to participate in the 2020 Census at censuscounts.org
- Need to Talk: NALEO Educational Fund will run a bilingual hotline to respond to individuals looking for information on next steps or reassurances about the safety of participating in the census. If you have questions about the 2020 Census, call 877-EL-CENSO on SCOTUS Decision Day and the days following from 8:30AM EST – 8:30PM EST.
- Have Questions: Voto Latino will run a bilingual peer-to-peer text campaign to minimize the spread of disinformation and provide critical updates. We will provide text information as soon as it becomes available.
- Use: Social Media Hashtag is #WeCount
Toolkits and resources:
- Brennan Center for Justice Backgrounder on Federal Laws that Protect Census Confidentiality available here.
- #WeCount | Social Media Toolkit from UWD, FIRM, BAJI, CPD, Faith in Action, and NPNA available here.
- NALEO Educational Fund Toolkit
- Faith in Public Life messages for faith leaders responding to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the citizenship question.
- Count All Kids Backgrounder on impact on the count of young kids available here.
- Color Of Change has developed a toolkit for partners working to engage Black communities in the 2020 census.
- National Urban League’s census toolkit can be found here.
- Message Frames for the SCOTUS Citizenship Question Decision
Frequently Asked Questions:
In the case of a loss, you will likely be asked these two questions within 24 hours of the decision.
Q: Should people simply not answer the citizenship question?
Note: Additional guidance will be provided around this highly-delicate question within 72 hours of the decision.
A: Responding to the census and all of the census questions is required by law. It also is very important that everyone is counted. Fair political representation and access to resources for vital public services depend on it. The Census Bureau will accept census responses online, by telephone, or on the paper form even if a household doesn’t answer all the form’s questions. Filling out your own 2020 Census form is the easiest way to participate in the census. If your household responds on its own, it is highly unlikely that a census taker will come to your door to collect missing information, unless your household skipped most of the questions. So keep the law in mind, and do your best.
Census data are protected by the strictest confidentiality protections in federal law. We will work to combat any actions by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies that rest on personal data from the census obtained in violation of the law or used to harm respondents in violation of the law.
Q: Should we boycott the Census?
A: No. While the proposal to add the citizenship question already has increased the climate of fear surrounding the census in many communities, we must continue to ensure our communities are counted. Boycotting the census would feed into the goal of anti-immigrant hardliners: to reduce political representation and access to resources for vulnerable communities through a census undercount. We can’t allow that to happen. A boycott plays into what the administration wants – for communities of color to not be counted. Participating in the census is the best way to protest the administration’s efforts to erase us from our nation’s diverse portrait.