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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)

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Government: Census Enumerators Expected to Cover 13 Million Households

This is according to Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho who made the announcement at a press conference on Monday

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Government, Census, Enumerators
Interior PS Karanja Kibicho and various government officials address a press conference on the progress of the 2019 census on August 26,2019.

BY GEOFFREY ISAYA

The government on Monday stated that each of the enumerators mandated with carrying out the census is expected to have covered 100 households by the end of the exercise. Census.

This is according to Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho who made the announcement at a press conference on Monday where he also stated that the government will put every effort to ensure the exercise is completed by the set date of August 31, 2019.

A quick skim through the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) website revealed that census personnel include 2,467 ICT supervisors, 22,268 content supervisors and 138,572 enumerators.

Hence if each of the 138,572 enumerators covers 100 households then it would reveal that the government is targeting to account for at least 13,857,000 households.

Government, Census, Enumerators
The government on Monday stated that each of the enumerators mandated with carrying out the census is expected to have covered 100 households by the end of the exercise. Pixabay

“We have a foolproof system to deter false information and altering of numbers. We are expecting that by end of the 7 days each enumerator should have covered 100 households,” said the PS.

He also added that at least 35 cases of a section of Kenyan citizens obstructing the enumeration exercise have already been reported, with a few of them already in court.

“It’s against the law for anyone to stop enumerators to do their work,” said PS Kibicho, adding that action will be taken against area administrators found to be involved in boycotting of the exercise.

He further thanked bar and restaurant owners for heeding to the call to shut down their premises by 5PM for the first two days of the exercise; Saturday and Sunday.

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The PS also gave the business owners the green light to resume operations saying the establishments can be open Monday from 5PM.

“For Kenyans who have not been counted you still have time that is up to August 31…We expect that by then each household will have been visited.”

“We have agreed as inter-ministerial committee to extend working hours from 6am to 10pm in urban areas such as Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kisumu, Kakamega, Kisii, Machakos, Thika,” he stated.