It isn’t hard to discern a pattern in the way the Trump administration is planning to conduct the 2020 Census, in the same way that it’s not hard to discern the racial animus against Hispanics that undergirds the president’s moves on immigration. Yet even if the motives are apparent, the effects are not so easy to predict.
Most notably, the Commerce Department has announced plans to add a question asking respondents about their citizenship, a move stoutly opposed by immigrant advocates. The Office of Management and Budget also put the kibosh on a plan to combine the Census’s race and ethnicity questions into a single question, which the Census Bureau had concluded would produce a more accurate count, especially of nonwhite people. The Census Bureau is also planning to draw more heavily on existing federal records and digital tools.
“It seems like Latinos are in the crosshairs for Census 2020,” Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, said Monday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.
The Census is constitutionally required to count everyone in the country every 10 years. That includes both citizens and noncitizens, though Alabama is currently suing to try to have unauthorized immigrants excluded from the tally. The implications of the tally are wide-ranging: The numbers determine not only how seats in the U.S. House are allocated and reallocated among states, but also federal funding levels for programs like Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, highway funding, and more.