The 2020 census will include a question about respondents' citizenship status.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross made the announcement via a letter to Under Secretary for Economic Affairs Karen Dunn Kelley that was posted to the department's website.
Ross detailed the process of reviewing the pros and cons of asking people their citizenship status, which included reading letters from stakeholders in the sensitive debate and keeping an eye on news reports about the issue.
"After a thorough review of the legal, program, and policy considerations, as well as numerous discussions with the Census Bureau leadership and interested stakeholders, I have determined that reinstatement of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census is necessary to provide complete and accurate data in response to the DOJ request," Ross wrote.
"To minimize any impact on decennial census response rates, I am directing the Census Bureau to place the citizenship question last on the decennial census form."
The Census Bureau has until March 31 to submit its 2020 questions to Congress, which Ross directed Kelley to do.
Ross admitted that the question's inclusion might have an impact on some responses, but "the value of more complete and accurate data derived from surveying the entire population outweighs such concerns."
It has been reported a citizenship question on the next census could water down the important data gleaned from the nationwide survey.
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