Time line of the citizen census question

 

The Census Bureau’s current plan

The Census Bureau plans to use the same wording as what is already used in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which asks respondents to check one of five categories to describe their citizenship status. Three categories apply to people who are U.S. citizens at birth: born in the U.S., born in a U.S. territory, or born abroad with at least one U.S. citizen parent. People who say they are a naturalized U.S. citizen are asked for their naturalization year. The fifth category is “not a U.S. citizen.” The survey does not ask whether noncitizens are legally in the country.

1880 – 1950 Census includes question about citizenship. Question then was dropped.

January 20, 2017.  Trump Administration begins.

May 2017. Commerce Secretary Ross expresses frustration that his plans to introduce a citizenship question are not being supported (reported by NY Times). “I am mystified that nothing has been done in response to my months-old request that we include the citizenship question,” he groused in a May 2017 email to an aide tapped out on his iPhone. “Why not?”

July – November 2017. Ross conversed with Stephen Bannon and Kris Kobach. Koback recommends that the Census use the same question as that used in the American Community Survey. Sept. 17, Justice Dept responded to Ross that “the AG is eager to assist.” On Nov. 23, Ross joined Mr. Trump for Thanksgiving at Mar-a-Lago, Upon his return, he fired off another message to his general counsel. “We are out of time,” it read. “Please set up a call for me tomorrow with whoever is the responsible person at Justice. We must have this resolved.” (per NY Times)

September 20, 2017. Internal Census Bureau memo discusses respondent confidentiality concerns.

November 2, 2017. Internal Census report warned of adverse impact of citizenship questions.” CSM researchers have noticed a recent increase in respondents spontaneously expressing concerns about confidentiality in some of our pretesting studies conducted in 2017. We recommend systematically collecting data on this phenomenon, and development and pretesting of new messages to avoid increases in nonresponse among hard-to-count populations for the 2020 Census as well as other surveys like the American Community Survey (ACS).”

December 12, 2017. Justice Department wrote the Census asking that a citizenship question be re-instated in the 2020 census.

December 29 2017 Pro Publica reported that The Justice Department is pushing for a question on citizenship to be added to the 2020 census, a move that observers say could depress participation by immigrants who fear that the government could use the information against them.

March 20, 2018 Ross told the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee that the insertion of the question had been initiated “solely” by officials at the Justice Department, with no involvement from officials in the White House. “Has the president or anyone in the White House discussed with you or anyone on your team about adding the citizenship question?” asked Representative Grace Meng, Democrat of New York. “I am not aware of any such,” Mr. Ross testified.

March 26, 2018 Department of Commerce announced that a question on citizenship status will be reinstated to the 2020 decennial census questionnaire to help enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Press release said that “Secretary Ross’s decision follows a request by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 decennial census.”

March 26, 2018 The state of California sued the Trump administration Monday night, arguing that the decision to add a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census violates the U.S. Constitution. The state’s attorney general acted just after the Commerce Department announced the change in a late-night release. The lawsuit is here.

April 3, 2018 The District, Virginia, Maryland and 15 states filed a lawsuit Tuesday to block the Trump administration from adding a last-minute citizenship question to the 2020 decennial Census. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, also includes six cities and the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors and comes a week after California sued the administration over the same issue.

July 3, 2018 Judge Jesse Furman of Manhattan’s Southern District allowed a multistate lawsuit to move forward amid “strong” evidence that the Trump administration acted in bad faith in its push for a controversial citizenship question to be added to the 2020 Census, plaintiffs in the case said. Furman also granted a request for discovery, according to New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, whose office filed the case on behalf of 18 states, the District of Columbia, nine cities, four counties and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

July 17, 2018 Furman allowed a lawsuit to move forward against the Trump administration over its controversial decision to add a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census.

Furman ruled that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross did in fact have the authority to add a citizenship question on the census. But the way in which he carried out that authority, the judge said, may have violated the plaintiffs’ rights to equal protection under the law. Ross’s decision to add the citizenship question, the judge said, “was motivated at least in part by discriminatory animus” and by President Trump himself.

Furman said the plaintiffs gave plausible evidence that U.S. officials intended to discriminate against immigrant communities, driven by President Trump’s incendiary statements about immigrants of color.

September 21, 2018 A federal judge ordered Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to sit for a deposition in a lawsuit challenging Ross’s addition of a question about citizenship to the U.S. census.

November 2, 2018 The Supreme Court refused to delay a trial in which a number of states and civil rights organizations allege there was an improper political motive in Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.

November 5, 2018 Trial began.

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