Queens immigration advocates blast change to 2020 U.S. Census

TimesLedger Newspapers
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Last week Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross skirted an April 1 deadline and consented to a request from the U.S. Justice Department to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 U.S. Census. Across the borough, immigration activists are furious at the political implications of the move and have voiced concerns over the integrity of the data that is to be collected as immigrants may question the confidentiality of the data.

The census, which occurs every 10 years, is used by policy makers to make decisions on federal funding as well as apportion congressional districts. The census has not asked about immigration status since 1950 and it is unclear what the government’s motivations are for collecting this data. The American Community Survey, which is administered yearly and based on the census in 2010, is used to track demographic data and already contains questions on citizenship. Unlike the Census, however, the data is not used to apportion congressional districts.

In addition to falling asleep in government hearings, Ross is best known for overt hostility to foreign trade. His world view has made him a natural fit for the nationalist agenda of the Trump administration, which has positioned itself as opposed to immigration, legal and otherwise.

The change is being made over the objections of some in the leadership at the Census Bureau as well as the Census Scientific Advisory Committee – the experts that advise on the accuracy of the survey. In a statement, the panel blasted the re-introduction of the citizenship question as “flawed logic.” In a memo agreeing to the change, Ross cited the American Community Survey as evidence that the citizenship question was “tested” and asserted that adding the question would have a negligible impact on response rates as many of the undocumented had already decided not to participate.

The MinKwon Center for Community Action, an immigration advocacy group based in Flushing, blasted the change, asserting that Asian-American and immigrant communities are undercounted and warned that the immigration question will “only lead to fear and depressed response rates.” The organization is part of a broader advocacy coalition of 18 organizations called APA Voice, which aims to increase civic engagement in immigrant communities across the city.

In a Feb. 14 letter to Ross, APA Voice questioned the legitimacy of census data that includes a citizenship question and noted that Asian-Americans in particular would be affected by the census change, with two-thirds of the community being foreign born and one in five in a household with no one over the age of 14 fluent in English. The group sees efforts to force disclosure of immigration status as a move to intimidate immigrants and contrary to their efforts in ensuring that accurate data is collected in 2020. Historically, the Census Bureau has focused on matters such as translation of the questionnaires and outreach rather than politically charged issues.

There is precedent for undocumented persons to be wary about revealing their status to the government. Last year immigration hardliners sued New York City to prevent the destruction of data from the IDNYC program. The municipal ID program had enabled all New Yorkers, including the undocumented, to obtain a government picture ID that allowed some limited access to city services. Advocates were concerned that the data could be used by the Trump administration to track down undocumented persons.

Additionally, the undocumented youth that disclosed their status as part of the Deferred Action Against Childhood Arrivals program now face deportation after President Trump declared DACA “dead” after Congress refused to provide funding for the border wall. This breaks the covenant of trust these youth had placed in the federal government.

In short, this move to require a citizenship question on the census is consistent with the Trump administra­tion’s obsession with tracking and counting undocumented persons. As mass deportation remains unfeasible, the administration has pivoted to removing them from the public eye, through the targeted detention and deportation of activists, raids on “sanctuary cities” to intimidate undocumented immigrants who live openly. Though the undocumented cannot vote (and allegations of “voter fraud” remain a fantasy) the communities they live in elect representatives who grant them the voice they would otherwise be denied. It’s hard not to see a political motive behind this move.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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Reader feedback

Notwelcomed from Queens says:
Oh please... Bill clinton asked this question on the 2000 census on question 13. That question asked citizenship or not. Why is it SO WRONG for the USA to want to control ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION? Every country has laws against illegal immigration. Come here the right way or else stay out! Have them fix their OWN countries. We must protect our citizens first. Illegal immigration is way too risky. Look at the illegals we take in, ms13 gang members who are anchor babies, rapists, murderers, drug dealers. We have our own problem people to deal with. We dont need to take in more problem people. Especially not ones who SUCK our welfare system dry and doesn't even contribute much to society except pick some fruit or clean tables or do construction work. I would have no problem paying a dollar more a pound for fruit if i knew it was picked by a citizen or a dollar more for a gallon of milk if i knew the farm hands were citizens. I still think construction companies charge WAY too much even though half their workers are illegals. We all know that the construction companies would fair just fine if they hired LEGAL workers, they are just too cheap to pay the insurance and take liability for their workers getting hurt and there should be a law against that.
April 6, 9:48 am
Helton from Flushing says:
Prem is oblivious (or ignorant) of the hypocrisy of his viewpoint.

All states have the number of their Congressmen determined by their state's population.

On the one hand, he supports sanctuary states like NY, NJ, and CA who intentionally violate U.S. immigration laws and thus inflate their population totals.

On the other hand, he then supports these states being rewarded with more Congressional representation because of their larger populations, which they have BECAUSE they have intentionally violated U.S. immigration laws.

Can someone at the Times Ledger please tell Prem that it's against the law to benefit from criminal activity.
April 7, 10:51 am
THINK from Queens says:
BUT a legal immigrant has nothing to question about this. They are legal American citizens. STOP making out that legal immigrants and illegal immigrants are one in the same, they are NOT.

With the exception of DACA, which were children and babies brought here years ago and this is the only home they know (which is why they need to be made Citizens), all others are breaking the law. I mean what is so wrong with having people come to a country through legal means. Otherwise, we have no idea who is coming through. AND the MS13 gangs are perfect examples of this. This gang came about due to illegal immigrants, not legal immigrants.

Why do you think Queens has so many illegal conversions which put a major strain on infrastructure, ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

And this whole identity politics are why Democrats will lose another election and why we got such an ignorant idiotic in the White House right now.

Some of you folks just don't get it. We are a country with open arms, but through LEGAL channels. Not too damn hard to understand, except the clown writer of this article.
April 9, 5:29 pm

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