July 8, 2019

Citizenship Back in the Census?

“The Justice Department said Friday it will press its search for legal grounds to force the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, hours after President Donald Trump said he is ‘very seriously’ considering an executive order to get the question on the form.” AP News

See our prior coverage here. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left opposes adding a citizenship question due to the risk that minorities will be undercounted, and criticizes the administration for offering the courts inconsistent justifications.

Trump has shown himself to be ignorant of what is at stake here. ‘I think it's very important to find out if somebody is a citizen as opposed to an illegal,’ he said on Monday. ‘There's a big difference to me between being a citizen of the United States and being an illegal.’ In fact, the proposed citizenship question on the census does not inquire about immigration status. It only asks if a person is a US citizen. A person who answered ‘no’ is not necessarily an undocumented immigrant -- he or she could be a green card holder or a foreign national on a work or student visa. How telling it is that Trump apparently equates all non-US citizens present in the country as ‘illegal’… The 2020 census is not Trump's census, it is our census. It is by and for the American people, and it must be carried out without further delay.”
Raul A. Reyes, CNN

The Justice Department is not being helped by Trump, who acknowledged on Friday that the ‘number one’ reason for a citizenship question is ‘for districting.’ Presumably, Trump means that he wants to let states draw districts by counting only citizens of voting age, not all persons—a scheme that would dramatically boost white voting power. (It has been neither permitted or prohibited by SCOTUS.) That’s a troubling concession, because Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the Supreme Court that using citizenship data for redistricting was not the purpose of the census citizenship question. Once again, Trump is telling a very different story from the narrative carefully crafted by DOJ attorneys… With every reversal and misrepresentation, the Trump administration is making it more difficult for Roberts to uphold the question under a new rationale.”
Mark Joseph Stern, Slate

The question now is whether those fighting the citizenship question in court can use these comments to argue that Trump has revealed the administration’s and the Republican Party’s true goals. The administration has not yet signaled what its new rationale will be, but Trump’s comments certainly point in a different direction than before -- and a potentially partisan one, at that.”
Aaron Blake, Washington Post

“We know from the established facts that this was never about enforcing the Voting Rights Act, and the courts have confirmed this view. Yet Trump ordered the lawyers to keep this battle going, anyway, in part because conservatives urged him to keep fighting, even though the original rationale has now been unmasked as fake!”
Greg Sargent, Washington Post

“No one knows how the Supreme Court will look on a hypothetical new rationale. On the one hand, Roberts invited the administration to return with its genuine motivation. On the other, the justices would have to overlook the dance the government is attempting. Furthermore, the administration can’t very well admit that it wants to undercount the population for political advantage—as Trump’s remarks today imply—because it would have to tell the courts that it is aiming for a less accurate census…

“Trump also says he’s considering an executive order to add the citizenship question as some sort of addendum to the main questionnaire. It’s unclear how this would work. First, it would seem to run afoul of existing injunctions. And second, even if it succeeded legally… [one former congressional staffer and a census expert doubts] it would work logistically… There are many critiques of the Trump administration’s legal strategy in its quest to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census, but one cannot fault its chutzpah.”
David A. Graham, The Atlantic

“Many… are skeptical if an executive order would be successful — or even legal. University of California Irvine law Prof. Rick Hasen wrote in a blog post that an executive order from the president is pointless when the issue at hand is whether there is a logical reason behind adding the question, not whether or not the president has the authority to include it.”
Catherine Kim, Vox

From the Right

The right supports adding a citizenship question in order to understand how many non-citizens are present in the country and where they are located.

The right supports adding a citizenship question in order to understand how many non-citizens are present in the country and where they are located.

How does one determine whether a person is an alien, or a U.S. citizen, with the entitlements and benefits that go with citizenship? By asking the question, of course…

“Proof of citizenship is required when applying for most jobs in the country. When I travel internationally and return home, there are two lines at Immigration and Customs. One is for noncitizens and the other for citizens. A form requires me to state my citizenship and show my U.S. passport. To apply for a U.S. passport I must provide proof of citizenship. In other countries, a stamp on my passport not only limits the amount of time I am allowed to stay, but also prohibits me from employment. In the UK, I can’t use the National Health Service because I am not a citizen. Other nations have a right to pass and enforce such laws. Only in America do we pass laws and then allow people to get away with ignoring them.”
Carl Thomas, Washington Times

Chip Roy (R-TX) writes, “getting an accurate counting of persons, and citizens, is important for re-districting, for allocation of federal dollars, for setting up voting locations, for making decisions about the impact of illegal immigration on American communities, and for, yes, administering the laws in accordance with the Voting Rights Act, among other reasons…

“The Supreme Court expressly held that ‘[t]he evidence before the Secretary supported that decision’ to include the citizenship question on the Census… But it held there was a ‘mismatch’ between the Secretary’s decision ‘and the rationale he provided,’… So if the Secretary gives a proper explanation, it would be completely lawful for the federal government to include a citizenship question on the Census.”
Chip Roy, The Resurgent

Some argue that “Section 2 of the 14th Amendment provides that if a state denies the franchise to anyone eligible to vote, its allotment of House seats shall be ‘reduced in the proportion which the number of such… citizens shall bear to the whole number of… citizens… in such state.’ This language is absolute and mandatory. Compliance is impossible without counting how many citizens live in each state.”
David B. Rivkin Jr. and Gilson B. Gray, Wall Street Journal

Others, however, counter that “Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment has never been enforced. It would be both complicated and unpleasant to attempt it… A little over a week ago, Chief Justice Roberts rejected the Trump administration’s stated reason for the citizenship question as pretextual. Whether that decision was right or wrong, the Rivkin-Gray gambit looks like a dubious new pretext for adding a citizenship question to the census.”
Matthew J. Franck, National Review

“This citizenship question already appears on the longer and more detailed American Community Survey given to millions of people by the Census Bureau, and there is no evidence that it underperforms or does not get filled out. Many polls regularly include this question and there is no lack of response as a result… Legally, it should be a no-brainer that the commerce secretary can add a question that was on the census for scores of years, appears on the census of many other countries, and is recommended even by the United Nations in its guide to conducting a census…

“[The] Census fight is really about politics… [by asking about citizenship] the Trump administration will be able to document block by block and congressional district by congressional district how many voters and non- voters live there and also to pinpoint how much in taxpayer dollars goes to citizens versus non- citizens… On the other side, the last thing that advocates of a more liberal immigration policy want is to document the full extent of the issue and its concentrated impact in certain areas of the country… The real battle over the citizenship question on the 2020 census has nothing to do with any of the arguments advanced by either side before the Supreme Court.”
Mark Penn, Fox News

A libertarian's take

Not asking about citizenship seems to signify an attitude toward immigrants something like this: Get them in and across the border, their status may be mixed and their existence may be furtive, and let's not talk too openly about what is going on, and later we will try to get all of them citizenship… Countries that do let in especially high percentages of legal immigrants, such as Canada and Australia, take pretty tough stances in controlling their borders. Both of those countries ask about citizenship on their censuses. When citizens feel in control of the process, they may be more generous in terms of opening the border… as long as [we keep] taking in immigrants in torturous and not entirely legal ways, the debate over higher legal immigration will continue to founder.”
Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg

Airports open up terminals to tourists who just want to hang out.


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