Chat with the Chief: Citizenship

Following what has been called a “controversial decision,” for the first time since 1950, the U.S. Census Bureau is going to be asking whether or not respondents are citizens of the United States in the 2020 decennial census.

While the goal is to gather more information about eligible voters, critics of the change fear that it will lead to inaccurate responses from illegal immigrants that would avoid answering.

There has actually been a lawsuit filed on the grounds that it could skew the results, despite the fact that it is illegal for the census bureau to release responses to law enforcement or immigration agencies.

The question does not ask whether or not non-citizens are in the country legally.

This is in the opinions section, so what’s my take on all of this?

I consider myself moderate in my stance on immigration; I think if you want to be a part of this country and take advantage of its programs and benefits, you should have to go through the naturalization process or hold a green card.

That said, I know as well as anyone that America is a melting pot; both sets of my grandparents immigrated here from Europe in the early 1900s and they worked hard to learn the language and integrate.

Physically building a wall is a ridiculous, expensive and needlessly spiteful proposition but I believe there is a balance to be found between inviting diversity and preserving nationalism.

All of that aside, I can’t help but feel that this question is a bad idea. There is a time and a place for the enforcement of immigration laws and the census is not an appropriate occasion.

Despite the fact that it doesn’t ask about whether or not the individual is here legally, there is not a doubt in my mind that this will deter people from answering honestly, which could impact congressional representation and federal funding on a macro level in states with a significant undocumented population.

Click here for last week’s Chat with the Chief focused on Easter.