“Are You an American Citizen?” How a Simple Question Can Cause so Much Controversy

  • The Supreme Court delayed the Trump Administration from including a question regarding citizenship on the 2020 Census.
  • Opponents of the addition believe it's an effort by Republicans to seize power at the expense of minorities.
  • The Trump Administration will continue to pursue the issue.

“Are you an American citizen?” Although this question seems simple, it is surrounded by controversy. The most recent of which comes from a Supreme Court case involving adding an additional question to the Census. This question would ask American residents if they are citizens. Despite the conservative lean of the court, they delayed the president’s action, perhaps long enough to keep it off the 2020 Census. The court claimed that the White House’s explanation for adding the question was insufficient. They felt that President’s reason was “more of a distraction” than an explanation.

The United States Census is a decennial census mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, which states: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States … according to their respective Numbers … . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years.”

The question was added by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who was asked to include the question by the Justice Department. Ross said that the Justice Department wanted the question on the Census in order to improve their enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act.

Before 1950, the Census contained questions regarding citizenship but currently does not address the subject. This is alarming to many proponents of the addition, who feel that the issue is important and should be monitored through the United States Census. Opponents of returning the question to the Census cite a concern that the question’s presence will cause many illegal immigrants and non-citizen residents to not fill out the questionnaire. They claim that this could cause immigrant-dense districts to become underrepresented and to receive less federal funding and aid.

The Associated Press states that challengers to the addition say that, “evidence uncovered since the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in late April supports claims that the citizenship question is part of a broader Republican effort to accrue political power at the expense of minorities.” Supporters of the addition cite growing concerns about illegal immigration and the enforcement of our immigration laws. Supporters believe that the question’s presence on the 2020 Census is vital, and is one of the most basic and rudimentary questions that should be included on a census.

It currently appears that the Trump administration will continue to pursue this issue with the President recently tweeting, “Seems totally ridiculous that our government, and indeed our Country, cannot ask a basic question of Citizenship in a very expansive, detailed and important Census, in this case for 2020. I have asked lawyers if they can delay the Census, no matter how long, until the United States Supreme Court is given additional information from which it can make a final and decisive decision on this very critical matter. Can anyone really believe that as a great Country, we are not able to ask whether or not someone is a citizen. Only in America!”

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=4]

Kyle Reynolds

I'm a young writer who for a long time has been fascinated by history, politics, economics, and everything else that makes the world go round. I love to hear from my readers and can be contacted at kylereynolds2017@gmail.com.

Leave a Reply