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Citizenship question could cause the Idaho count to be too low



The US Department of Commerce's decision to add a controversial citizenship issue to the Census 2020 has raised alarm and insecurity in fast-growing Idaho, where populations are growing rapidly and areas that researchers find hard to count.

The decision to include immigration status was announced on Monday. On Thursday, the Census Bureau submitted its planned questions for the 2020 Census to Congress.

The Nine-word Citizenship Question is both harmless and highly charged: "Is this person a citizen of the United States?"

To Margie Gonzalez, Executive Director of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, "This is insulting, the ultimate goal was to make sure that everyone in our state was counted, we had been so careful for so many years, and that brings us back . "

An accurate count is important because official decisions are made based on census data ̵

1; the decade-long effort to count all in the country – and the American Community Survey, an annual census from the Census Bureau with a sample size of 3.5 million people

The data is used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funds each year. Political boundaries from congressional districts to school boards are drawn from census figures. Companies use the data as well.

"There is no trust"

Gonzalez is a veteran in dealing with the Census Bureau. In 2000, she said, the countdown in Idaho was profoundly flawed and "really badly scored the entire population in Idaho." Five years later, to improve the number for 2010, "our agency took over cooperation with the US Census Bureau and talks with them about what we failed in 2000."

The commission formed a nationwide task force whose Members represented all marginalized communities historically underestimated. Documented and undocumented immigrants from Mexico and other Latin American countries are included, as are refugees and Indians. The Commission urged bilingual census takers. The result, she said, is a much more accurate account of Idaho's population.

Gonzalez said she feared that progress in Idaho would be lost with a new question about Trump's efforts to combat legal and illegal immigration. build a wall on the border between Mexico and the United States and punish so-called sanctuary states and cities that do not cooperate with the Department of Homeland Security.

"There is no trust," said Gonzalez. I do not know if I want to be a part of collecting this data because there is already the problem of trust … with our own census history and how challenging it is to people who It is difficult to document or not document to fill the census. "

The Idaho Commission for Hispanic Affairs is an impartial government agency that provides services to Hispanics and acts as a bridge between Hispanics and government.


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The 2010 census and other censuses since 1960 have not asked for citizenship in terms of the short forms most households receive. A citizenship issue is included in the annual American Community Survey of the Census Bureau, which examines the population.

Ross D. Franklin AP

Related Stories from Idaho Statesman

A Common Sense Question [19659008] Alejandra T. Cerna Rios, policy analyst for Idaho Voices for Children, said that the citizenship issue was too lower response rates and unreliable data on migrants and households with mixed status.

"To understand how to best meet the needs of all Idaho children and families, we need a reliable and accurate count that includes all the children in our communities," said Cerna Rios, whose charity in Boise is committed to child health , Security, education and economic security. "Therefore, any movement that contains inaccuracies is worrying, and the count will be used for 10 years thereafter."

As of July 2017, the most recent available census, Idaho has a population of 1,717 million, from 1,568 million in 2010 and 1,294 Millions in 2000. The agency joined the Hispanic Population & # 39; share at 12.3 percent in 2016, the most recent estimate for race and ethnicity. That's 11.2 percent in 2010 and 7.9 percent in 2000. Hispanics form the largest race or ethnic group in Idaho after non-Hispanic whites, who make up 82.4 percent of the population.

In December, the Justice Department asked the Census Bureau to add a citizenship question to help agents enforce a section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that prohibits "election practices or procedures based on race, color or membership." discriminating against minority languages ​​"

Trade Minister Wilbur Ross said in a Monday letter that officials reviewed the request and ruled that" the need for accurate citizenship data and the limited burden that the issue would impose "outweighs fears of a potentially lower response rate ,

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, reiterated its support for the Citizenship Question this week, which was joined by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma. "It's imperative that the data collected in the census are reliable," Cruz said, "given the far-reaching implications for US policy, a citizenship issue is a reasonable addition to the census."


  Census Citizenship California

People living illegally in the US are waiting in front of the 2012 Los Angeles Human Rights Coalition Coalition. California is suing the Trump administration for their decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 US Census. California and other large states with large immigrant populations may lose seats in Congress if non-citizens avoid the census because they are afraid to answer the question.

Damian Dovarganes AP

Researchers list hard-to-count areas

Researchers from the City of New York City's Urban Research Center say some areas of the country have census trails that are hard to count will be. The interactive map of the hard-to-count areas of the center contains some tracts in Idaho. Among them are Tract 9400 in Bingham County, which is 14 percent Hispanic and 82 percent Native American; and Tract 9602 in Power County, which is 40 percent Hispanic.

Jeffrey Lyons, assistant professor at the Boise State University School of Public Service, said he did not believe that too little was enough to influence Idaho's congressional boundaries.

That's more of a Californian problem. The Golden State has already sued the Trump government to block the citizenship issue, which California Attorney General Xavier Becerra called "unconstitutional." Scott Graf, spokesman for Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, declined to comment.

But Lyons said that if a large number of Hispanic residents refuse to attend because they fear the federal government, the census data could be tarnished .

"For me as a data subject, there is a data quality problem," Lyons said. The census is "the foundation of our entire data-driven understanding of the country, our demographic understanding, understanding of health outcomes."


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