Coloradans have less than two weeks to submit official comments about an unnecessary, untested citizenship question slated to be on the 2020 census.
Experts warn that adding a citizenship question to the census will deter Americans from completing the survey, regardless of their citizenship status. “Counting every Colorado resident in the 2020 census is critical to making sure our government works for everyone,” said Amanda Gonzalez, Executive Director of Colorado Common Cause. “An inaccurate count would harm our state for the next decade.”
According to the American Immigration Council, immigrants account for roughly 10 percent of all Colorado residents. And immigrant communities – in addition to communities of color, urban and rural poor, and young children – are already disproportionately undercounted by the census. “These can be scary times for immigrant and Latino communities. Opposing this untested and unnecessary citizenship question is one way that we can stand up for ourselves, our friends and our neighbors,” added Gonzalez.
“Including an immigration question on the census threatens an undercount as well as census credibility. The census is intended to provide an accurate enumeration of all residents, regardless of immigration status. If a citizenship question is included, citizens and noncitizens alike will be less likely to respond out of fear for what the administration could do with their information. President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions make it unlikely that families would entrust sensitive information to this government, increasing the probably of inaccurate numbers,” said Carla Castedo, Colorado Director of Mi Familia Vota Education Fund.
Census data is used to calculate the number of U.S. Representative seats allotted to each state. Colorado currently has seven seats in Congress, which was calculated after the 2010 census, and is expected to gain an eighth seat. Voters will also weigh in on changes to the Centennial State’s redistricting process on their 2018 ballots.
Census data is also used to determine federal funding for nearly 300 state and local programs across the country. This includes funding for Medicare, housing assistance, head start programs, emergency food assistance, and public education. Colorado is expected to receive tens of billions of dollars in federal funds for these programs over the next decade. A study by the George Washington Institute of Public Policy showed that Colorado loses over $1,000 in federal funds for every person not counted in the census. An additional 1% undercount of Colorado residents in the 2010 census would have resulted in a loss of $63 million in federal funds in 2015.
Colorado Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to uphold the core values of American democracy. Working within a broad coalition, we are fighting to ensure that every Colorado resident is counted in the 2020 census. We urge Coloradans to submit comments to the Census Bureau about the citizenship question before the comment period closes on Tuesday, August 7, 2018. For more information, visit www.CommonCause.org/CensusCO.