CalNonprofits Articles

Census Bureau Announces Comment Period on 2020 Census and Citizenship Question

As we’ve written earlier, community-based organizations play a key role in the Census. As a very recent example, in response to advocacy by over 100 organizations, Governor Brown and the state legislature allocated an additional $50 million in the state’s budget for outreach and planning for a successful 2020 Census.

There is another opportunity for nonprofits to support the communities they serve and to ensure they are properly counted by speaking out against the inclusion of a citizenship question.

Earlier this year, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross directed the Census Bureau to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. This was deeply alarming since a citizenship question has not been included for over 60 years. In fact, experts at the Census Bureau had warned Ross that a citizenship question would reduce participation, increase costs, and generate "substantially less accurate" citizenship status data.

The goal of the Census is to provide an accurate count of every person living in the United States. A question about citizenship may discourage people from participating in the Census, fearful that their answer to the citizenship question could be used against them.

This would be particularly bad for Californians. Our state is home to the highest percentage (27%) of foreign-born persons in the country, and an undercount would have long-term consequences not just for our political representation, but also for federal funding that’s tied to Census data.

There is bipartisan opposition to adding the citizenship question, including 61 members of Congress, more than 160 Democratic and Republican mayors, six former Census directors who served in Republican and Democratic administrations, and 19 attorneys general.

You can also weigh in about the misguided decision.

On June 8th, the Census Bureau published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public comments on 2020 Census data collection operations. The notice states the categories of questions that will be asked on the 2020 Census, including the proposed citizenship question. Comments are due by August 7th.

Click here to submit your Census comments. 

We want to make sure that the Census Bureau reads your comments, so be sure to begin your remarks by writing something personal about your nonprofit and the impact on your community.

Not sure what to say? Here are some points you can make:
  • Talk about your nonprofit, where it's located, and how it provides services to your community.
  • We rely on the Census to provide accurate, comprehensive data that determines how much federal funding our community receives for necessary services such as hospitals, emergency preparedness and response, roads and more.
  • Adding a question about citizenship will make it much harder to get an accurate count.
  • This unnecessary citizenship question is invasive and will raise concerns about the confidentiality of personal information.
  • There will be significant costs to taxpayers by adding an untested question this late in the process.
It’s not too late to fix this! Please take a moment to submit your comments now.

CalNonprofits is a member of the Census Policy Advocacy Network (CPAN), and we are working with other statewide organizations in California to advocate and shape policy concerning the 2020 Census. If you have any questions about our census work, please contact Nancy Berlin, Policy Director. . (Photo credit: City & State Magazine)

Add comment

Security code

get connected module titleSign up to receive our emails on member benefits, events & webinars, tips & tools, and legislation & policies that affect nonprofits.

go to Facebook page for CalNonprofits     go to Twitter page for CalNonprofits     go to LinkedIn page for CalNonprofits

Become a member

Join us at CalNonprofits. Strengthen the voice of nonprofits in California and receive benefits and cost savings on a range of programs and services.

Stay informed on nonprofits news in California. We'll send you information about events and webinars, tips & tools, and legislation impacting the nonprofit community.