Census citizenship question could worsen undercount

National News

January 8, 2019 - 10:17 AM

The paperwork used by census takers in 2000. (Boris Yaro/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Asking people whether they are U.S. citizens on the 2020 census would worsen the undercount of Latinos and non-citizens compared with other groups, an expert in surveys said Monday at the start of a trial over the Trump administration’s decision to include the question for the first time in 70 years.

Colm O’Muirchear-taigh, a professor at the University of Chicago, said the question would reduce the percentage of Latinos and non-citizens who respond to the census questionnaire. He testified in federal court for California and numerous cities that argue asking about citizenship is politically motivated and are suing the U.S. government to keep it off the population count that is done every decade.

California’s lawsuit says an undercount of Latinos and immigrants would jeopardize its federal funding and congressional representation in a state with a substantial number of both groups. Figures from the census are used to determine the distribution of congressional seats to states and billions of dollars in federal funding.

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