Written by Robert Warden
|Earlier, I wrote about how Republicans have been attempting to deport immigrants or prevent people from coming to the United States in the first place by imposing strict immigration laws.
More recently, another of the Republican Party’s never-ending attempts to rig the system in their favor has developed, which involves reducing the number of natualalized U.S. citizens as well as denying non-citizens from having political rights as residents of the United States. This tactic, as you may have heard, is simply asking residents their nation of citizenship on the 2020 census.
This question, if approved, will work for Republicans in two ways, helping them further tilt the system in their favor. First, the long term consequence, may be to discourage immigration to the United States, as non-citizens will likely feel intimidated by the requirement to reveal citizenship status. This is a long term goal of Republicans, who not only tend to dislike immigrants (based on the fact that immigrant bashers tend to be Republicans), but also know that immigrants tend to vote for Democrats, giving Republicans further incentive to discourage immigration. In the short term, this may not affect voting much at all, but ultimately, it does have a significant effect on voting and politics.
The second reason, is that congressional districting may be based on the number of citizens present if Repubicans get their way, instead of the current practice of basing congressional districts on total population, regardless of citizenship, so that actual districts have approximately equal numbers of residents overall. If Republicans are successful in changing this policy, non-citizens will not count at all in determining congressional districts; only the number of actual U.S. citizens will count. This change would also favor “red states” which usually have fewer non citizens, over “blue states” such as California, where large numbers of non citizens reside.
In addition, as the following article in New York Magazine mentions, research indicates that the inclusion of the citizenship question would cause a considerable undercount of non-citizens in the census (http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/03/trumps-census-change-could-boost-the-gop-for-years-to-come.html). As I also wrote about earlier in this series, there is already a major problem regarding the undercounting of children and minorities in the U.S. census, along with overcounting wealthy, white people who may have more than one residence. To top off the problems created by the use of this citizenship question, it potentially could be used to prevent non citizens from using social services, keeping them exlusively for U.S. citizens — something which as liberals and humanitarians, we need to oppose.
Is the citizenship question in the 2020 census a done deal? Fortunately it is not a done deal. The article in New York Magazine, for instance, mentions that Eric Holder is planning to sue the current administration to keep it from going ahead with the citizenship question in the census. Just from my limited observation, it appears that even somewhat conservative judges are often sympathetic toward civil rights issues and tend to judge against attempts to restrict civil rights. Thus, there may be a good chance of stopping this latest undue influence attempt by the GOP. We need to oppose this egregious and discriminatory example of America First/Americans First, and support legal efforts to stop this census question from going forward. I believe our chances of winning this battle are good, especially with the key allies such as former Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder on our side — but it’s not going to be easy and by no means is it a sure win for our side.