Addendum To Post – July 7, 2019
The first quote below is an excerpt from an article posted by thehill.com. I don’t know much about that organization, but I know that the excerpt misrepresents how the census bureau has gathered information about a person’s citizenship over the course of American history from 1790 through 2010. The article does not dispel false narrative about this issue, but creates new ones.
“Lost in this partisan uproar is that a citizenship question has appeared in some form or another on censuses throughout our history. Indeed, it was only removed entirely in 2010 by President Obama, and its roots stretch deep into the founding era. It’s worth detailing the history to dispel all the false narratives. A question about citizenship was proposed for the first time in 1800 by Thomas Jefferson, who advocated for an inquiry into “the respective numbers of native citizens, citizens of foreign birth, and of aliens.”
Furthermore, the following excerpt leads me to believe that the writer does not know that information about citizenship cannot be used for purposes of apportionment of taxes and representatives among the several states. Article I, Section 2 of the constitution uses the word, “persons” not “citizens” in the original and amended versions of that article. Persons = citizens + non-citizens, any way you count it.
“After all, the census is used to draw congressional districts and assure the voters of each state are adequately represented in Congress. So, we are talking about information that has been collected throughout most of our history and is critical to the very core [of] democratic protections of the Constitution.”
I have done some research on how the questions on US citizenship have appeared on the census questionnaires during the entire history of the United States from 1790 through 2010. I state here my conclusions – which I believe are reasonably accurate, and I welcome comments in the way of constructive criticism – to include corrections and suggestions.
I found no mention of US citizenship on the questionnaires for the census years between 1790 and 1840. I found no direct questions about citizenship on the questionnaires for the census years between 1850 and 1980, but the questionnaires for all census years contained several differently-worded questions about the birthplace of persons and sometimes about the birthplace of the person’s parents. I found the direct question: “Is the person a citizen of the Unites States? to first appear on the questionnaire for census year 1990 and it appeared again on the 2000 questionnaire. No questions related to where a person or the person’s parents were born is found on the 2010 census questionnaire. Most questions of that type were moved to the Community Survey Questionnaire.
Original Post – July 6, 2019
President Trump seems bound and determined to get a question on the 2020 census questionnaire about whether a respondent is also a citizen. Here is what the President said Friday about the reasons why this information is needed:
“Number one, you need it for Congress — you need it for Congress for redistricting. You need it for appropriations — where are the funds going? How many people are there? Are they citizens? Are they not citizens? You need it for many reasons.”
I can say nothing kinder about the President’s scattergun statement than that it’s totally false. Article I, Section 2 of the body of the Constitution calls for the census to count the number of “persons” (not citizens) each ten years, for the purpose of apportioning representatives and taxes among the states. The XIV Amendment, Section 2 which modifies that section of the constitution retains the word “person.” Therefore, knowing how many of the persons counted are US citizens (or not) can have no bearing on that apportionment.
But if a state has a significant number of non-citizens who choose to avoid the census count for any reason, like fear of being deported, that state could lose some of its representation in congress as well as federal funds, the state deserves by law. The reason is obvious why the President wants the questionnaire in the census; it’s to discourage participation of non-citizens, which he believes will help the Republican Party gain seats in congress. The President’s base support is mostly white and any action, legal or illegal, which suppresses the vote of non-whites will help him get re-elected. Local and State politicians particularly in the south, have always used numerous forms of discrimination and suppression to deny minorities, especially African Americans, their right to vote – and it didn’t matter what political party was in power. However, I don’t recall until now that a President ever took the lead in the suppression of minority voting.