The citizenship question that will be included on the 2020 census may result in millions of people neglecting to fill out the form altogether, according to a new analysis.
Robert Shapiro, who worked in the Commerce Department during the Clinton administration and oversaw the 2000 census, wrote a piece for the Brookings Institution in which he argued that everything from allocation of federal funds to the number of congressional districts could be impacted in certain states.
"My analysis … suggests that some 24.3 million people would have good reason to skip the 2020 census if they believe their names and addresses could be shared with law enforcement," Shapiro wrote.
"Moreover, because most of them are not concentrated in the big blue states, and most of the federal funding tied to the census involves programs like Medicaid, Section 8 housing assistance, and support for school lunches, the new Ross-Sessions policy could cut federal funding to the 23 mainly red states with poverty rates above the national average."
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross decided to include the question because he said it would provide the government with important data and would allow it to better enforce the Voting Rights Act. And he said it will occur at the end of the census questionnaire "to minimize any impact on decennial census response rates."
Shapiro, however, concluded that population figures in states with the largest number of illegal immigrants — Nevada, Texas, California, New Jersey, Arizona, Florida, and Maryland — could be thrown off if millions of people decline to fill out their census surveys. That could alter things like the number of electoral votes and the number of congressional seats in each state.
Other groups that could decline to fill out their census forms include young people who are behind or in default in paying their student loans, Shapiro wrote, along with parents who are behind on child support payments and fugitives.
"The Ross-Sessions Census policy could be a political boomerang for Donald Trump and the GOP," Shapiro argued. "To be sure, of the 12 states plus D.C. that could lose seats in Congress based on disproportionately large undocumented populations, eight of them plus D.C. are blue states with 143 electoral votes — compared to four red states with 94 electoral votes.
"However, by vastly expanding the potential pool of uncounted people apart from undocumented immigrants, the Ross-Sessions Census policy also could result in federal funding cuts for 14 red states with 181 electoral votes — compared to two blue states (California and New Mexico) plus D.C. with just 63 electoral votes."
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