According to a letter revealed Friday, the Department of Justice (DOJ) wants to add a relevant question to census forms: citizenship status.
ProPublica reported that the DOJ has requested that the Census Bureau add the question to 2020 census forms, according to the letter, dated Dec. 12. The letter indicates that the question of citizenship is relevant, as it will allow the department to enforce the Voting Rights Act.
“To fully enforce those requirements,” the letter states, “the Department needs a reliable calculation of the citizen voting-age population in localities where voting rights violations are alleged or suspected.”
The letter was drafted by Arthur Gary, a lawyer at the DOJ, and addressed to Census Bureau official Dr. Ron Jarmin.
A spokesperson for the Census Bureau confirmed the letter, and informed the news site that the “request will go through the well-established process that any potential question would go through.”
The census attempts to count every person who lives within the U.S. borders, but critics say the immigration status question may not give census takers an accurate picture of the population, despite their efforts. They say it may discourage illegal aliens from participating in the census all together, as they may fear that the government can use the information in an immigration battle.
Pro Publica claims, “That, in turn, could have potentially large ripple effects for everything the once-a-decade census determines — from how congressional seats are distributed around the country to where hundreds of billions of federal dollars are spent.”
The Census Bureau’s population count determines the distribution of the 435 U.S. House seats.
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