Texans Are Hard to Count Already, Asking About Citizenship Won't Help

The census is a once-in-a-decade national headcount that seems to be a perennial headache. The latest issue is the Trump administration's recently released decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 questionnaire. No one wants a more accurate count than we do, but the problem here is that this needlessly inserts a contentious politic issue into an otherwise bland enumeration of the people living within our borders. The result will almost certainly be a less accurate count, especially here in Texas. First, let's consider why the census is boring but vital. The census is a basic tool by which we can understand ourselves as a country. It records information ranging from age to place of residence and much more. This information helps apportion congressional seats among the states, helps Congress know where to direct federal dollars to address specific issues, and helps businesses know where to invest. Unfortunately, the tool's accuracy largely depends on whether people believe the census will not be used against them. That is a particularly salient point in Texas, which has a large immigrant population. Approximately, 5 million immigrants live in this state, according to a recent Texas Tribune report. An estimated two-thirds of them are legal permanent residents, immigrants with another form of legal status, or those here without proper documentation. Many other Texans who are U.S. citizens live with a family member who isn't. It is reasonable to assume that millions of these people will be reluctant to fill out a census form that asks about citizenship. Many might simply crumple up the form in protest. Even before the ill-advised Trump policy, Texas was in danger of an inaccurate count in 2020. After the 2010 count, the U.S. Census Bureau found that most Texans live in harder to count areas than the national average. About 66 percent of the state's residents, including 85 percent of Texas Hispanics, live in census tracts that exceed the national average for low response scores, the Texas Tribune reported.  Continue reading...

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