On Wednesday, state officials César Blanco, D-El Paso, head of the Texas House Border Caucus, and state representative Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, vice chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, have called Governor Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton Join other states to sue the federal government to stop the US Department of Commerce from adding a citizenship question to the census. Already, at least a dozen states, led by California, have filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to prevent the question from being asked. They argue that such a question will cause a sub-count, which means that the federal money tied to the census numbers will decrease. Neither Abbott, who is out of the country, nor Paxton have publicly joined the debate. We talked to Steve Murdock, the former head of the US Census Bureau under President George W. Bush, who is now a professor of sociology at Rice University, to understand the controversy.
What is the controversy?
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that the US Census Bureau, which belongs to his department, will ask for citizenship in his next decade-long survey of the US population. In a written statement, Ross said his agency has "determined that the reintroduction of a citizenship question on the 2020 ten-year count questionnaire is necessary to provide complete and accurate census block data" so federal officials can measure the proportion of the voting population. In December, the US Department of Justice asked that the issue be included to help it comply with the Voting Rights Act. Critics, including many census experts, warned that such a question in the current political climate would lead to fewer people responding to the census, later undercutting the population of a jurisdiction, and losing federal money to the people of a community] that affect Texas?
Demographers and other experts say Texas could be one of the most affected states, given its large growth rate over the past decade and the number of immigrants it is believed are living here. The Pew Research Center, which conducts one of the most comprehensive analyzes on immigration trends, estimates that 1
What is the breakdown?
Part of the census process involves the so-called division, which determines how many members of the congress each state will receive, dividing 435 members from all states. After the last census, Texas got four new members of the congress, more than any other state. Representative Blanco said that the projections suggest Texas could receive two more members of Congress after the next census. Any minority could influence that number, so an accurate count of Texas not only ensures the right amount of federal aid, but, more importantly, gives Texas political power in Washington, which is proportional to its population.
What is the Argument for Adding a Citizenship Question
The main argument for the question is that it could help federal officials, especially the Ministry of Justice, to identify suffrage issues by giving officials a clearer understanding of who has voting rights. With this knowledge, officials can begin to investigate whether there are systemic obstacles for those who are eligible to vote but do not.
Proponents of the question also note that there has been a citizenship issue in the census for nearly a century. The question was removed in 1950, but other surveys used by the Census Bureau, such as the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey, continue to be a question of citizenship.
What speaks against adding the citizenship question?  The key argument is too little. Critics of the Citizenship Question say that any person living illegally in this country should be able to complete the census form if that person understands the benefit to the community. However, if this person asks a question asking for citizenship status, he or she may decide not to answer the census because it fears that an honest answer could have negative consequences. Officials point out that the census prohibits sharing this data with other authorities, but people may not know that such a provision is being practiced. Asked if removing the question would reduce the fear of an undocumented person filling out a form, Gonzalez probably did not say so. But given the current political climate, she said, such a question would feel like another example of federal officials illegally targeting the people of that country.
What's wrong with being illegally here?
This is one of the basic debates revolving around undocumented immigrants in this country. Are they a win for the society that offers consumer demand and cheap labor in this country? Or are they a disadvantage and live off the welfare system of the country? Advocates argue that they both contribute to the economy and help portray the true size of a state like Texas, which, under the US Constitution, is entitled to federal services based on a count of "all" people – not just all
So what are the constitutional issues raised in the legal challenge of this question?
The question of citizenship violates the constitution because it would cause people to fail to answer the questionnaire, according to the California lawsuit. As the complaint points out, the constitution requires that the Federal Government count every ten years in this country. But legal experts suspect that California might have a weak challenge. For example, if the federal government stipulates that only the citizens of that country are counted, that would be a fairly clear constitutional violation. However, if the federal government initiates a policy that can cause underweight, the constitutional challenge becomes more problematic.
What is the end result?
First, this delicate political issue needs to be resolved quickly. As Murdock said, "We are very late in the process" to adjust the census questionnaire. And while opponents argue that, as it affects the state's economy, the capacity to provide social services and representation in Washington, it should not be a political, but a public political discussion, it seems to be fighting from a political perspective the constitutional challenge. In a press conference on Wednesday, critics of the movement said that it is bipartisan opposition, but were hard pressed to name a single Republican opponent. This suggests that citizenship might be a question in the 2020 census.