Will a citizenship question appear on the next census?

The 2020 U.S. census is set to ask respondents whether they are citizens. This move has many people in Louisiana worried, with some wondering if their responses could jeopardize their status in the country. However, activists are fighting back against the citizenship question, with at least one federal lawsuit moving forward. 

The census is a vital aspect of the Constitution. It must occur every 10 years and include a count of all living individuals — not just citizens — inside the United States. The last time the citizenship question was included on the census was back in 1950. It was not the Census Bureau’s idea to reinstate the question, though. That decision was made by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. 

The Census Bureau stated that it believes asking about citizenship will do more harm than good. Even the bureau’s chief scientist warned that this question will likely discourage noncitizens from responding to the census, which will skew population results. Since these head counts help reallocate Congressional seats, redraw legislative districts and distribute approximately $800 billion from federal funds, a lack of response could greatly diminish the representation and services available in certain communities. 

Regardless of a person’s legal standing in the U.S., many immigrants feel understandably worried when questioned about their citizenship. Ultimately, it is best to respond truthfully, even if the prospect of doing so may be frightening. This is because even noncitizens have rights and protections afforded to them, so most immigrants should feel well-assured of their legal standing in Louisiana.