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Opposing a Citizenship Question in the 2020 Census

by Jennifer Gray

Updated June 25, 2018

MANP is joining our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits in opposing the addition of a “Citizenship Question” to the 2020 Census. As we posted previously, it’s critical to have an accurate count as many federal funding formulas depend on census data. Maine is at risk of being undercounted as we have immigrant and rural communities which are vulnerable to inaccurate counts. Our members would be at risk of being negatively impacted by an undercounted census. We’ll update this post with additional information and resources when available.

UPDATE:  The Census Bureau is now seeking public comment on the citizenship question. Deadline is August 7.

Address your comments to:

  • Jennifer Jessup, Departmental Paperwork Clearance Officer, Department of Commerce, Room 6616, 14th and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230
  • Submit via email:

Identify your comments with Docket number USBC-2018-0005

For more information, go to the Federal Register here.

Please see below the content provided by the National Council to learn more about why we oppose the question.

The board of the National Council of Nonprofits recently added this statement to the Public Policy Agenda: “The National Council of Nonprofits opposes inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire because of the likelihood that, among other things, it will suppress participation and lead to an unfair, inaccurate, and incomplete count.”

The board acted in response to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s recent announcement that it plans to insert a question about citizenship status into the 2020 Census – something that has not been asked since 1950. The U.S. Constitution requires that every “person” in the United States be counted, not just citizens. The concern by many – including 17 states, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and six cities participating in one lawsuit, plus California, the NAACP, and others in additional lawsuits – is that a citizenship question will lead to an undercount by provoking fear and mistrust in communities with immigrants and other people of color. Having a fair, accurate, and complete count is highlighted twice in the Public Policy Agenda because undercounts “can lead to inadequate representation and funding, which in turn put more pressure on nonprofits and foundations, state and local governments, and businesses in undercounted areas to do even more to address unmet needs.”

2 thoughts on “Opposing a Citizenship Question in the 2020 Census

Kerry Zimmerman says:

From my understanding, those individuals will be counted, but are ineligible for voting and therefore shouldn’t be included in deciding districting, etc.

Jennifer Gray says:

From our perspective, including the citizenship question will create a chilling effect and some will choose to not participate. In addition to determining congressional districts, the count also is used in many critical funding formulas and is an important data source. Thank you for your comment.

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