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Over 7,000 people granted National Verification Cards (NVC) in Rakhine State of Myanmar

Aung San Suu Kyi has prioritized three main tasks for Rakhine - repatriation of refugees who have crossed over to Bangladesh and providing humanitarian assistance effectively; resettlement and rehabilitation; and bringing development and lasting peace to the region

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Displaced Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine. Wikimedia.

Myanmar, October 29, 2017 : More than 7,000 people have been granted national verification cards (NVC) in Myanmar’s Rakhine since an authentication process started on October 1, authorities said on Sunday.

The process is one of the recommendations proposed by an advisory commission on the state, led by former UN chief Kofi Annan, reports Xinhua news agency.

Using biometric methods for the national identity system, the process is being carried out in areas where stability returned to normalcy, U Aung Min, director of the Rakhine State Immigration and Population Department, said.

National verification process is the first step toward scrutinizing citizenship in accordance with the 1982 Citizenship Law, the officer said, urging local people to hold national verification cards as long as they live in Myanmar under the 1949 and 1951 Union Citizenship Acts.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has formed nine private sector task forces to join the mechanism of Union Enterprises for Humanitarian Assistance, Resettlement and Development (UEHRD) in Rakhine, chaired by State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

ALSO READ UN Report on Rohingya Hunger Crisis Suspended on Order of Myanmar Government

The newly established mechanism aims to allow the government and all local and international organizations to work in all sectors and all strata of society for the development of the state.

Suu Kyi prioritised three main tasks for Rakhine – repatriation of refugees who have crossed over to Bangladesh and providing humanitarian assistance effectively; resettlement and rehabilitation; and bringing development and lasting peace to the region.

The government is also ready to implement a national verification and repatriation process in accordance with agreed criteria set out in a joint statement between foreign ministries of Myanmar and Bangladesh in 1992. (IANS)

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Here’s All What You Need to Know About Citizenship Question and Census

The once-per-decade survey is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Its results have major consequences for states

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Citizenship, Question, Census
Demonstrators gather at the Supreme Court as the justices finish the term with decisions on gerrymandering and a census case involving a bid by the Trump administration to ask everyone about their citizenship status in the 2020 census, July 27, 2019. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump is making a last-ditch push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census, despite a Supreme Court ruling against it last month and criticism by some states and civil liberties groups that the question is meant to deter immigrants from participating and help Republicans gain seats in the U.S. Congress.

What is the census used for?

The once-per-decade survey is mandated by the U.S. Constitution. Its results have major consequences for states.

Census data is used to determine the number of congressional representatives for each state, and dictates how the federal government allocates more than $800 billion in funding for services such as schools and law enforcement.

Citizenship, Question, Census
US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross speaks at the 11th Trade Winds Business Forum and Mission hosted by the US Department of Commerce, in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, May 7, 2019. VOA

Why did the Trump administration want to add the question?

A question about citizenship has not been asked of all households since the 1950 census. It has featured since then on questionnaires sent to a smaller subset of the population.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department runs the census, announced in March 2018 that a citizenship question would be reinstated to produce better data on enforcement of the federal Voting Rights Act, which protects minorities’ electoral power. The government also said citizenship is a reasonable question to ask, noting that it is common in many other countries.

The Census Bureau’s own experts estimated that households corresponding to 6.5 million people would not respond if the question were asked, leading to less accurate citizenship data.

Also Read- Future of Obamacare at Stake as U.S. Federal Appeals Court

Why did opponents of the question sue?

States with high numbers of immigrant and Latino residents, led by New York state, sued to block the citizenship question. They said it would cause an undercount of their populations and disproportionately hurt their regions by costing them U.S. House of Representatives seats and millions of dollars in federal funding. Immigrant advocacy groups said the government’s plan aimed to discriminate against non-white immigrants.

What did the U.S. Supreme Court do?

A federal judge in Manhattan and two others in Maryland and  California blocked the addition of a citizenship question as a violation of federal administrative law or the Constitution.

Citizenship, Question, Census
U.S. President Donald Trump is making a last-ditch push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census. Pixabay

On June 27, the Supreme Court upheld the Manhattan decision, saying the administration’s Voting Rights Act rationale seemed “contrived.”

The ruling by Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, was joined by the court’s four liberal justices.

The ruling noted that Ross was determined to add the question from the time he was put in charge of the Commerce Department. The justices sent the issue back to the department, potentially allowing officials to offer a new explanation for adding the question.

A U.S. House Democrat who oversees  funding for the U.S. Census Bureau said he would not support money being spent to reprint forms if the Trump administration won court approval to add the citizenship question. Printing of the 2020 Census forms has started for the more than 600 million documents to be mailed to more than 130 million households.

Also Read- Trump Administration Gearing Up to Expedite Initial Screenings of Immigrants Seeking Asylum

How could the census be used to boost political power?

Reuters reported in April that the Trump administration believed its citizenship question could help Republicans in elections by enabling states to draw electoral maps based only on citizen population, rather than total population.

Recently unearthed evidence that the challengers have said reveals an illegal discriminatory motive by the administration is being litigated in lower courts. Democratic critics of Republican Trump have also pointed to his hard line policies on reducing immigration.

Documents created by Republican strategist and redistricting expert Thomas Hofeller, who died last year, showed he was instrumental behind the scenes in instigating the addition of the question. He concluded in a 2015 study that a citizenship question would be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” in redrawing electoral districts based on census data.

The Supreme Court did not weigh in on that evidence and the Trump administration called the newly surfaced evidence “conspiracy theory.” (VOA)