When you get your census this year, you may or may not have an additional question to answer, depending on how the United States Supreme Court rules on the question this spring. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross decided to add a question to this year’s census asking whether or not members of the household are United States citizens.
Including the question on the census was objected to by a number of states and advocates for immigrants and several lawsuits were filed as a result. Now that the Supreme Court has decided to hear the issue, the outcomes of the state court cases are generally not important. Salt Lake City DACA attorneys know that the Supreme Court’s decision is very important, however, because it will have major impacts on public funding and political strength in our immigrant and minority communities.
Defending the decision to add the citizenship question
In 2018, the Commerce Secretary decided to add this question and part of the administration’s defense to the challengers is that citizenship questions have been asked on past censuses. While that is true, questions about citizenship have not been asked since the 1950s. Another part of the citizenship question defense is that answers will help to enforce voting restrictions and requirements. Trump officials argue that this question will actually help to protect minority voting rights by monitoring voter demographics.
Why Challengers are against citizenship questions
Legal challengers are against the citizenship question because they see it as politically motivated. They argue that undocumented immigrants will not answer censuses for fear of government retaliation if they admit their status. Especially now that deportation numbers are at an all time high, it makes sense that people would be afraid.
Challengers then argue that if immigrants do not fill out the census because all or some of the members of their household are not citizens, minorities and immigrants will then be harmed as they will have less congressional seats and less Electoral College votes because they will be underrepresented. They also fear getting less federal funding for things like Medicare, transportation, and education.
What happens if you lie or refuse to answer the census?
Federal law does provide that people who do not answer the census or people that do not answer it completely are subject to a maximum $100 fine. Giving false information is also against federal law and a maximum $500 fine may be imposed. The census was never intended to trap people and presumably, that is still true today, but in the current polarized immigrant environment in our country, it is understandable why non citizens would be afraid to answer these questions.
Salt Lake City DACA attorney, Gloria Cardenas, at Familia America Immigration is an immigration attorney that advocates for immigrants in all areas of immigration law. She has dedicated her career to helping immigrants and their families get results. It is not an easy time for immigrants in America, but with the right counsel advocating for you, your chances of success are greatly improved.