Home / US / The censorship staff warned of immigration fears long before the citizenship question

The censorship staff warned of immigration fears long before the citizenship question

The Census Bureau warned last fall that on the basis of focus groups and pre-tests for the 2020 census, staff reported increased fear among immigrants that their voluntarily provided information was being used against them and their families.

And on Tuesday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman cited similar fears as he led 18 states, six major cities, and the US Mayors' Conference in filing a lawsuit against the Trump administration for citing a citizenship issue in the year 2020. The state of California has already filed a separate lawsuit.

"This is a blatant attempt to undermine the census," Schneiderman said at a news conference in New York. "Someone from the Trump government knocking on your door and asking for your citizenship status would cause real fear." States and cities claim that they lose hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding if their immigrant populations are underestimated.

Census Bureau staff reports include several examples ̵

1; including participants who give false information or leave family members on the list, cancel interviews, and persons who appear "visibly nervous" – as evidence of their concerns about what they see less participation predicting the 2020 census and "hard-to-count populations" would be missed.

These concerns, reported by Census Bureau staff, preceded the December Ministry of Justice's request that a citizenship status issue be included in the 2020 Census form.

  PHOTO: President Donald Trump sits at Air Force One on Andrews Common Ground in Md., March 29, 2018. Tom Brenner / The New York Times / Redux
President Donald Trump joins Air Force One Joint Base Andrews in Md., March 29, 2018.

But even before the Ministry of Commerce decided at the end of last month late last month to include the controversial issue, Census Bureau staff cited concerns over current "political issues" and wanted President Donald Trump DACA – The Obama-era postponed action on Childhood Arrivals Program, which protected undocumented immigrants from being illegally protected in the US as children. The staff said that the uncertainty about the future of the program worried immigrants' concerns about passing information to the government.

There are "potential barriers to participation by respondents in the 2020 Census", which "are particularly worrying as they disproportionately affect populations that are difficult to count and have an impact on data quality," he said Memorandum of 20 September 2017 Directorate for Research and Methodology.

"Politics changed everything," a sales representative was quoted after conducting focus groups in spring 2017.

Both the memo and the presentation of an employee of the Census Bureau to the National Advisory Committee on Racism, Ethnicity and other Populations in November pointed to a great reluctance of immigrants who had identified the staff in relation to some of the participants Focus groups and pre-test measures in the past.

"Especially considering our current political climate, the Latino community will not sign up because they think the census will pass on their information and people can search for them," noted one interviewer.

The Department of Commerce emphasized the data protection measures surrounding the census information.

There are "strict privacy standards of Census employees," said a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce ABC News. "Censuses are safe, secure and protected by federal law, answers can only be used to compile statistics, and every employee of the Census Bureau takes an oath to protect the information received from respondents." Some records are not shared with third parties, including The exchange of personal data is punishable by heavy fines and up to five years in jail – or both. "

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross's decision of March 26 to include the Citizenship Question in the census has increased concern among Democrats, civil rights groups, government officials, and academics that non-citizens would not attend, resulting in an underachievement of the population The consequence would have been particularly affected urban areas where immigrants live.

Census questions submitted to Congress

The Census 2020 questions were officially submitted to Congress last Thursday.

The citizenship question appears in the submitted document, which was obtained by ABC News, and is the second question on the census form (the first question asks for the age of a respondent).

"Is this person a citizen of the United States?" Is the question.

  PHOTO: Page 11 of the questions planned for the 2020 Census and the US Department of Commerce's US Joint Survey involves the question: is this person a citizen of the United States? U.S. Department of Commerce
page 11 of the "Issues for the 2020 Census and the American Community Survey" issued by the US Department of Commerce contains the question: "Is this person a citizen of the United States?"

Under each question, the department provides a rationale for their inclusion.

In their rationale for this issue, the department writes a "person's citizenship is used to create statistics on citizens and non-citizens populations," which "is essential for enforcing the Electoral Law and its safeguards against electoral discrimination."

How and if the question is changed or attacked is unclear. A legislator could propose legislation or legislative amendment to make a change, but this proposal would have to be made through the normal legislative procedure, which means that both chambers of Congress will be adopted and signed by the President.

Censorship staff demands additional support

Census Bureau field workers as a result of these focus groups and pre-test results have requested additional support in the form of an "overcoming mistrust" advertising campaign and an "immigration statement to appear on the materials" as the 2020 census begins.

Both the focus group participants and the staff members they looked after suggested using a message such as "Your information will not be shared with others, including other government agencies."

However, the Census Bureau noted that it has "used similar statements in the past, but using such a statement now is problematic."

It is unclear whether Ross or his associates are aware of the Census Bureau's memorandum or the November presentation to its advisory census committee. The Census Bureau referred ABC News to the Department of Commerce, which did not comment on whether this information was publicly available on the Census Bureau website.

However, a spokesperson for the department noted, "Minister Ross noted that the need for accurate citizenship data and the limited burden that the reintroduction of the citizenship issue would impose would outweigh the fears of a potentially lower response rate."

The spokesman also pointed out that for the 2020 census, there would be "robust marketing and public relations" in "many different languages". The department plans to spend $ 480 million on marketing and advertising, compared to $ 376 million for the 2010 census.

It was not just census workers who saw immigrants become more reluctant to participate in government programs.

Additional concerns about involvement

Mayor of Mesa, Arizona John Giles, a Republican, is concerned that non-citizens or even legal immigrants with non-legal family members do not want to participate in the census.

He cited the changes brought by the Trump administration to the DACA as a major cause of mistrust among immigrants.

Arrests in Washington and Mississippi shortly after Trump's election made the new president discontinue the Obama administration's policy against the so-called Dreamers, the children of illegal immigrants.

"Why should we expect them to believe us?" Giles said to ABC News of the immigrant community. "It will be a very difficult sale."

He fears that this may be the "worst census in history".

  PHOTO: US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross speaking in front of delegates at the annual British Industry Conference (CBI) in East London on 6/6. November 2017. Daniel Leal-Olivas / AFP / Getty Images “/> 19659008] US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Speaks Delegates at the Annual Conference of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in East London, November 6, 6, 2017

Mayor Lydia Mihalik from Findlay, Ohio, has similar concerns about the response rate, noting that the immigrant community is concerned about "politicizing" the issue of citizenship.

"We have enough trouble because it makes people respond to the census if it's done every 10 years, then we add things that could lead to negative reactions that could affect our count," said she ABC News.

A minority of the population could have a ripple effect spreading to all parts of the country.

Census data has a political, social and economic impact

The count touches every part of a person's life and in a way that most people do not think about. "

Census data is used to determine the distribution of the house's 435 seats among the 50 states. Businesses use the data to make decisions, such as where to start a new business or which products to store.

And $ 675 billion a year in the allocation of federal and state funding is determined by the census, according to Census Bureau statistics.

These include $ 311 billion for medical assistance programs, $ 71 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, $ 38 billion for Highway Planning and Construction, $ 15 billion for Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, $ 8 billion for Headstart, and more.

"If the census is messed up, then everyone will feel it in different ways," said Andrew Reamer, census data researcher at George Washington University, told ABC News.

Giles values ​​in his city Mesa, which has a population of 500,000 and is growing – underestimated for every 10,000 people, "more potholes will not be repaired and there will be less police."

"It's about resources – the census is the gold standard used by every form of government – state, local, federal"


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