Adding A Citizenship Question To The Census Could Hurt Texas

Decisions about government funding and political representation are made based on population, not citizenship. If Texans don’t participate in the census, the state could lose out.

By Jill Ament & Rhonda FanningMarch 28, 2018 12:07 pm, ,

The Trump administration’s decision to ask about residents’ citizenship status in the 2020 census has generated controversy in Washington and around the country. In light of the president’s anti-immigration posture, the rise in immigration raids, and rhetoric over so-called sanctuary cities, an uproar is spreading.

Here in Texas, critics say adding this question to the census could affect an array of policies, including education, highway construction, health care and more.

Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey says that some people are already wary of answering census survey, and that adding a question about citizenship status could reduce the number of people, particularly immigrants, who participate. That, in turn, could lead to an undercount that has implications for everything from Congressional representation to funding for roads and health care.

“The main thing is to get a count of residents,” Ramsey says. Government funding and political representation are based on the number of residents, not citizens alone.

Until the 1950s, the U.S. Census included a question about citizenship status. Ramsey says that when immigration is a big issue in the U.S., the idea of asking about citizenship returns.

Ramsey says it’s already tough to count some U.S. residents.

“There are a bunch of census tracts where it’s difficult to do surveys in the first place,” he says. “And they are weighted toward Hispanic populations, and impoverished populations.”


Written by Shelly Brisbin.