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Congressman Darren Soto

Representing the 9th District of Florida

Rep. Soto Leads Hispanic Caucus Letter Opposing Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

January 17, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. Today, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), led by U.S. Representative Darren Soto, sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Commerce expressing strong opposition against the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) proposal to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

DOJ proposed the addition of a citizenship question to prevent racial discrimination in voting. In the letter, CHC members expressed their concerns to Secretary Wilbur Ross and urged the Department to oppose DOJ’s untested citizenship question, arguing it would “instill fear among immigrant communities, decrease participation and negatively impact the outcome and accuracy of the 2020 Census.”

CHC members concluded the letter to Secretary Ross by pointing out the apprehension in the immigrant community towards the Trump administration’s aggressive immigration policies. They argue this concerning trend would only worsen if a citizenship question is added to the 2020 Census.  

Click here for the final signed letter and below for the text of the letter. 

In addition to Rep. Soto, the following members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus signed the letter: Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Luis V. Gutiérrez (IL-04), José E. Serrano (NY-15), Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Salud O. Cárbajal (CA-24), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40),  Albio Sires (NJ-08), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Juan Vargas (CA-51), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Norma Torres (CA-35), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), and Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP-01).

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Representative Darren Soto (FL-09) is the Chair of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Task Force in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

 

January 17, 2018

 

The Honorable Wilbur Ross
Secretary
U.S. Department of Commerce
Room 5421
Fourteenth Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20230

 

Dear Secretary Ross:

We write to strongly oppose the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) request to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. General Counsel Arthur Gary’s December 12th letter claims that the addition of a citizenship question is needed to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in order to protect against racial discrimination in voting. The addition of a citizenship question only serves to instill fear among immigrant communities, decrease participation and negatively impact the outcome and accuracy of the 2020 Census. 

The U.S. Census is completed every ten years to collect data that accurately reflects the total United States population, regardless of citizenship. Census questions undergo years of extensive review, including field testing and feedback from focus groups. Adding an untested question could seriously impair the Bureau’s ability to produce an accurate population count and result in increased costs to the Census.

DOJ’s claims that the citizenship question is needed to enforce Section 2 of the VRA and to prevent racial discrimination in voting are unfounded. The Census Bureau already collects information on citizenship through the American Community Survey (ACS). This ongoing yearly survey provides more detailed information than the decennial Census, which enables the Census to focus more on population counts. The ACS’ reliable citizenship data was used in 2010 by both DOJ and civil rights groups to monitor compliance with the VRA and will once again be utilized for the same purpose in 2020.

The Trump administration’s aggressive immigration policies have already instilled fear among immigrant communities.   Immigrant communities are less likely to report crimes, or even enroll their eligible U.S. citizen children in government health and nutrition programs.  Early surveys have documented that some immigrants are afraid to provide information, or have given false information, to Census employees because they are fearful of how the information may be used.  This is a concerning trend and would no doubt be worsened if a citizenship question was included in the 2020 Census.        

We urge you to oppose the DOJ’s request for a citizenship question in the 2020 Census.  As you work to ensure a fair and accurate census that encourages full participation, we believe that including a citizenship question would only serve to suppress participation and result in inaccurate data that does not truly reflect the makeup of our nation. 

Thank you in advance for your attention to this critical issue.      

Sincerely,