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Quick Action

The Trump administration wants to add an untested and unnecessary citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census, which could discourage immigrant participation and potentially change how congressional seats are distributed among states. Learn more and ask your MoCs to support the 2020 Census IDEA Act.

SUM Federal Government Working Group C2A

THE ISSUE

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has directed the Census Bureau to add an untested and unnecessary citizenship question to the 2020 Census form, which would require households to disclose the citizenship status of all individuals in the home in order to be counted. Critics say the question could intimidate immigrants and lead to a serious undercounting of all U.S. inhabitants. Census data determines how many Congressional representatives each state gets and the number of votes states get in the Electoral College and is used by federal, state, and local governments to allocate funding for  programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, the National School Lunch Program, emergency preparedness, and many other vital services. A recently leaked internal Census Bureau memo noted that a citizenship question would diminish “the quality of the census count” and be “very costly.” The question is opposed by members of both parties, including 61 members of Congress; more than 160 Democratic and Republican mayors; six former Census directors who served in Republican and Democratic administrations; and 19 attorneys general—including Maine’s Attorney General Janet Mills. In early July, a federal judge ruled to allow a lawsuit to move forward that would block the question, citing evidence that the Trump administration acted in bad faith when it added the question. As a result of the suit, one of at least 5 filed against the Commerce department, forced the department to release internal memos that reveal former presidential aide and white nationalist Stephen Bannon pushed for the citizenship question. The memos also prove Ross lied under oath to a House committee when he said that the Department of Justice requested the question be added. 

 

THE ACTION

Ask Collins, Pingree, and Poliquin to co-sponsor the 2020 Census IDEA Act (H.R.5359/S.2578), a bill to prohibit the late addition of census questions without proper research and testing, the same rigorous vetting process that all other questions must go through. Sen. King is already a co-sponsor.

 

TALKING POINTS

  • The Constitution says to count all persons – not all citizens.
  • Maine depends on accurate census data for federal, state, and local funding for important programs, emergency preparedness, transportation planning, urban planning, and much more.
  • According to the American Immigration Council, there were 44,694 immigrants (foreign-born individuals) living in Maine in 2015, comprising 3.4% of the state’s population. Although more than half are naturalized citizens, the Trump administration’s targeting of naturalized citizens for deportation may lead many citizens not to participate in the census.
  • 5,334 people in Maine—including 1,517 born in the United States—lived with at least one undocumented family member between 2010 and 2014.
  • Undocumented immigrants in Maine paid an estimated $4.4 million in state and local taxes in 2014. Their contribution would rise to $5.5 million if they could receive legal status.
  • Inaccurate census data could affect “apportionment” of every state’s congressional representation and representation in the Electoral College and Maine relies on the census to draw legislative districts for the Maine House and Senate and county commissions.
  • Citizenship data is already collected through the American Community Survey, so a citizenship question on the Census is unnecessary and not an accurate way to collect this data.
  • The citizenship question is untested by the Census Bureau, which spent the past 8 years testing questions slated for inclusion on the 2020 Census.

Sen. Susan Collins (R)

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Washington, DC (202) 224-2523

Sen. Angus King (I)

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Washington, DC: (202) 224-5344

Rep. Chellie Pingree
(D-CD1)

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Washington, DC: (202) 225-6116 

Rep. Jared Golden
(D-CD2)

Email
Washington
, DC: (202) 225-6306

Maine House:
1-800-423-2900 

Maine Senate:
1-800-423-6900

TTY: Use Maine Relay 711 

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Representative and Senator.

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