Bennet, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Prevent Trump Administration from Politicizing Census with Citizenship Question

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and a group of Senate colleagues this week introduced the Every Person Counts Act of 2018 to prohibit the Census Bureau from asking a question on citizenship or immigration status.  The legislation comes on the heels of the Trump administration’s efforts to include a question on citizenship in the non-partisan 2020 Census—likely depressing participation among immigrant households.

“The federal Census is a Constitutionally-mandated, non-partisan process by which every person in this country counts,” Bennet said. “Politicizing this tool will have severe consequences for immigrant communities in our country. We should be working to make this process more transparent and accurate, not using scare tactics to prevent people from participating.”

ProPublica first reported that the Department of Justice had urged the Census Bureau to include a citizenship question on the upcoming census, claiming it was critical to enforcement of Voting Rights Act. Earlier this month, it further reported the request was drafted by a Trump political appointee who has worked on behalf of Republican redistricting efforts. And just this week, news reports revealed Trump campaign officials have used the president’s push for the controversial, anti-immigrant proposal to raise money for his re-election.

The Census Bureau must by law provide Congress with the final wording of the census questionnaire by March 31.

The Every Person Counts Act would:

  • Requirement: Amend title 13, United States Code, to make clear that each decennial census shall tabulate the total number of persons in each State.
  • Prohibition: Prohibit the Secretary of Commerce from including any census question regarding United States citizenship or immigration status.
  • Rule of Construction: Forbid an interpretation that would permit or require the census exclusion of populations based on age, personnel in the Armed Forces serving abroad, federal employees and their dependents stationed abroad or other persons outside the United States who are traceable to the State of their usual place of residence.

This bill is supported by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), SEIU, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Common Cause, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc, and the National Council of Jewish Women.