City Council’s Intergovernmental Relations Committee is proposing that the full council vote to oppose the Trump Administration’s proposal to list ‘citizenship status’ as one of the mandatory questions on the general 2020 U.S. Census form, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
“I would only say that the reason you would add this question would be to purposely undercount your population,” Committee Chair Rey Saldana said.
Megan Dodge, Assistant Director of the City’s Government and Public Affairs Department, told the committee that fully 24% of San Antonio residents are suspicious of the Census anyway, and San Antonio already has plenty of neighborhoods where Census participation is low, even without this question being asked.
“About 66% of Texans live in tracts which exceed the average low-response score,” she said.
Dodge said that, added to the fact that the Census Bureau is severely limiting the number of people who will be knocking on doors soliciting compliance with the head count, and response will be encouraged on-line in addition to filling out the mail-in form, places the city in a weak position already when it comes to the 2020 Census.
Now, several city officials worry that if people are asked to reveal their citizenship status to federal government officials, more will simply not fill out the form, and Dodge says that would cost every San Antonio taxpayer money, because distribution of federal funding, from highway construction to food stamps, is based on population.
“The Census also helps forecast transportation needs, determines eligibility for various assistance programs, and also determines Congressional representation,” she said.
The last time the short form which every U.S. resident had to fill out included a question about citizenship status was 1950, when the vast majority of residents of the U.S. were citizens, and the concept of the ‘illegal immigrant’ didn’t exist yet.
Since then, the question has been asked on a voluntary basis on what is called the ‘long form,’ or now the Community Survey, which is distributed in a way that national numbers can be extrapolated from the results. That’s the same form that asks bizarre questions like how many flush toilets are in your home.
Dodge says the City is already beginning to mount an aggressive campaign to convince all residents, regardless of citizenship status, to fill out the Census form, because of the importance of population to City operations.
The Constitution states that every ten years, ‘all persons’ residing in the United States shall be counted. It says nothing about whether the ‘persons’ to be counted should be citizens.
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