FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
Second Federal Judge Blocks Proposed “Citizenship Question” for 2020 Census
Albuquerque, N.M.– Today, a second federal judge issued a court order blocking the proposed “citizenship question” from being added to the 2020 census. U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg of California found that the administration’s decision is unlawful.
The decennial count helps the federal government decide how many billions each state receives per year and whether a congressional seats needs to be added to a state, in case there is population growth, or a seat must be removed if the population decreased.
“The politically driven citizenship question compromises the Census Bureau’s constitutional responsibility to conduct a fair and accurate count of every person living in the United States,” said Oriana Sandoval, CEO for the Center for Civic Policy. “The consensus is clear, the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Census was unlawful and Supreme Court should uphold the lower court rulings to remove the question”.
A question about U.S. citizenship status has not been asked of all households by the Census Bureau in close to 70 years. Inclusion of this question in the 2020 census would have disastrous consequences for New Mexico’s economy, as New Mexico would stand to lose billions in federal aid that are vital to fund essential public services like Medicaid, SNAP, and CHIP.
“The ‘citizenship question’ is a self-imposed hurdle to obtaining an accurate count as the question will cause people to refuse to respond from fear that the information could be used against them,” Sandoval said. “Getting the 2020 Census right is important for everyone –particularly for a state like NM which is likely to be undercounted”.
Currently, New Mexico ranks number one for hard-to-count states. A number of factors contribute to this low ranking: many residents speak languages other than English, move frequently, live in hard to reach rural areas, or worry about privacy or distrust the government. During the 2000 census, N.M. experienced an undercount of 1.94% of our total population, leading to a loss of billions of dollars over a ten year period.
“Our state loses approximately $3,000 for each person who is not counted in our communities. Thus multiplied out over the 10-year period until the 2030 Census, will result in $30,000 loss for each person missed,” Sandoval explained. “This is money our families cannot afford to lose.”
As a result of the lessons learned from Census 2000 undercount, the 2010 undercount in New Mexico was significantly reduced to under 0.3% due to a collaborative effort between the Department of Finance and Administration, UNM’s Geospatial and Population Studies, Bureau of Business and Economic Research, the Earth Data Analysis Center, and local governments. This combined effort identified 130,000 housing units missing from the Census Bureau Master Address File –30,000 of these on Albuquerque’s westside alone.
“Despite the recent gains in accurate counting, the U.S. Census Bureau is likely to be underfunded for the 2020 Census and its move towards the use of an online survey also proves to be a challenge in NM were nearly 30 percent of our population does not have a reliable connection to internet –greatly increasing the chance for a significant population undercount in NM,” Sandoval said. “It is up to our state government to fill the gaps and ensure we continue preparation for an accurate count come 2020.”
Currently, N.M. receives almost $8 billion in federal aid each year based on data gathered through the decennial census.