There is a strange, but transparent, political stand that Democrats are taking over the question on the 2020 census that asks the citizenship status of each of those living in the United States. To be exact, this is the question that they are objecting to:
Is this person a citizen of the United States? The answers you can choose from are the following: Yes, born in the United States. Yes, born in Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands. Yes, born abroad of a U.S. citizen parent or parents. Yes, a U.S. citizen by naturalization. Or no, not a U.S. citizen.
Obviously, the Democrats are interested in getting the counts of citizens higher in their districts, where more non-citizens tend to live (cities and border communities), thus increasing the number of Democrat representatives in Congress. They may also, possibly, wish to mask the number of non-citizens who may be voting illegally in our elections.
As Jim Jordan says, the 2020 Census doesn’t even include a follow-up question on whether the respondent is living in the country illegally. He goes on to say:
“I’d like to remind my colleagues the citizenship question is not new. It has appeared on previous decennial Census questionnaires and is asked on the American Community survey every single year. The majority apparently does not object to the American Community survey asking a citizenship question, so I don’t understand the majority’s objection to the question now,” he said.
“It is the exact same question on both forms. My colleagues complain the question hasn’t been tested, because it was out at the last minute. This argument’s simply false. The question has already gone through rigorous testing over more than a dozen years as it has appeared on the American Community survey. In fact, the American Community survey required more rigorous testing for this question than the question would have received in 2018 Census tests,” Jordan said.
“The American Community survey is sent to 3 million households annually, while the 2018 Census test in Providence, Rhode Island, was only tested on 600,000 people one time. If you’re doing the math, in the past 10 years, the citizenship question has already been answered by 30 million households, but wait, there’s more,” he said.
You may wonder why I say that their political stand is “strange”. The key to that is in my study of genealogy.
If you have searched census data since 1850, you know that the questions change from one census to another. You also know that many of the questions have to do with place of birth, birthplaces of parents, and dates of immigration, as well as other questions like profession, value of real estate, value of personal estate, income, education, marital status and number of years married. Several ask whether or not you are deaf, dumb, blind, insane or idiotic.
The 1900 census is valuable to genealogists because it asks the month and year of birth. It also has a whole section on citizenship: Year of immigration to the United States; Number of years in the United States; Naturalization status. The 1910 census also includes a citizenship section and questions whether or not you speak English or what language you do speak, as does the 1920 census, the 1930 census, and the 1960 census. The 1940 census has a citizenship section, as does the 1950 census, the 1970 census, 1980 census, 1990 census, and the 2000 census.
It is only in 2010, during the Obama administration, when the census changed radically. Five out of six households received a short form census questionnaire that only asks ten questions:
- How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?
- Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1?
- Is this house, apartment, or mobile home: owned with mortgage, owned without mortgage, rented, occupied without rent?
- What is your telephone number?
- Please provide information for each person living here. Start with a person here who owns or rents this house, apartment, or mobile home. If the owner or renter lives somewhere else, start with any adult living here. This will be Person 1. What is Person 1’s name?
- What is Person 1’s sex?
- What is Person 1’s age and Date of Birth?
- Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin?
- What is Person 1’s race?
- Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else?
One out of six households received a long-form questionnaire called the American Community Survey. This survey is sent out every year to a different group of households, and no household will receive it any more frequently than once every five years. What this results in are “summaries” periodically released by the Census Bureau which, I assume, can summarize the data in any way they see fit.
As Representative Jordan stated, there are citizenship questions on the ACS, so what exactly is the point of objecting to the same question on the 2020 census? My conclusion is that it is easier to fudge the data with the ACS than with an actual hard count on the census form.
If you would like to explore the census questions through the years from 1790 to the present, they can be found here: