So, What’s the Census?

Last week the U.S. Supreme Court was weighing the options as to whether the Trump administration would be able to ask people in the 2020 Census if they are United States citizens. This would give the Census Bureau a way to seek information about the legal status of millions of people living in the US.

As you know, nothing is really ever easy or agreeable in Washington. Last Wednesday, a California federal judge stated that, “adding the citizenship question to the Census is unconstitutional and threatens the very foundation of our democratic system.”

Under the Trump administration’s proposed plan, the Department of Homeland Security would provide the Census Bureau with personal information about noncitizens, like their immigration status, name, and date of birth. 

The bigger question is about what the Trump administration plans to do with this data. Many believe that these questions bring up privacy issues and may lead to inaccurate collection of census data.

Civil rights groups have expressed concerns about the citizenship question because they believe it would, “discourage noncitizens from participating in the Census and lead to less federal money and representation in Congress for states with large immigrant populations.”

Census officials argue that, “All uses of the data are solely for statistical purposes, which by definition means that uses will not directly affect benefits or enforcement action for any individual.”

Using data collected by another agency for a different purpose isn’t new, “During World War II Congress suspended those protections, and the bureau shared data about Japanese-Americans that was used to help send 120,000 people to internment camps. Most were U.S. citizens. From 2002-2003, the Census Bureau provided DHS with population statistics on Arab-Americans that activists complained was a breach of public trust, even if the sharing was legal.”

With about 44 million immigrants residing in the United states, around 11 million of them that live here are undocumented, so it’s obvious that this decision is a big one. So what’s the consensus on all of this? In mid-April, the Supreme Court will hear both arguments on whether the citizenship question should be included in the 2020 census. They expect to have a decision in the weeks following.

While Extract isn’t in the business of census polling, we are in the business of protecting people’s privacy. Our software redacts personally identifiable information for you automatically, saving you both time and money. If you would like to learn more about our software, please reach out today!



About the Author: Taylor Genter

Taylor is the Marketing Specialist at Extract with experience in data analytics, graphic design, and both digital and social media marketing.  She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing at the University of Wisconsin- Whitewater. Taylor enjoys analyzing people’s behaviors and attitudes to find out what motivates them, and then curating better ways to communicate with them.