Silicon Valley leaders are speaking out against the federal government’s plans to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census.
Santa Clara County has filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain more information about how the U.C. Census Bureau plans to protect the privacy of respondents. Earlier this month, the county also allocated $1 million to conduct a local census update—part of a multi-year campaign to “get out the count” for the upcoming decennial census.
Asking people to answer whether or not they are U.S. citizens on the census—a question that hasn’t been included since 1950—could have far-reaching effects. The census counts the overall population, not just that of citizens, to decide how to allocate federal resources and apportion congressional seats.
County Counsel James Williams said that “the county is evaluating its legal options and will pursue every available avenue to ensure an accurate and complete count, which is essential for our democracy."
Amid fears of deportation and heightened immigration raids, many households may refuse to participate in the census, officials cautioned. And in a county like this, where some 40 percent of residents are foreign-born, that would have a tremendous impact.
“Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census will stoke fears and depress participation in diverse cities like San Jose, threatening hundreds of millions in funding for critical services like education and healthcare,” San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement released to the public.
Every year, the federal government invests about $2,000 per person in California based on census data. Political representation is also tied back to this data—congressional seats are assigned based on census results, and state and local governments are use it to produce political district boundaries.
“I’m disappointed that the Census Bureau is caving to the Trump administration’s attempt to inject its anti-immigrant agenda into the constitutionally-mandated count of every person residing in the United States,” county Supervisor Ken Yeager said in a prepared statement earlier this week. “This can only result in a less accurate census and an undercount of Santa Clara County residents.”