Despite Opposition, AG Hunter Doubles Down On Census Citizenship Question
OKLAHOMA CITY - In a recent Opinion column, Attorney General Mike Hunter reemphasized his support for a controversial push to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census, despite widespread opposition.
In a piece for RealClear Politics, Hunter wrote citizenship data was necessary for the government to operate properly saying his support was meant. "to bring some sober thinking that should quell the unreasonable panic." He also notes that citizenship has been a part of past census surveys saying the question has been asked “billions of times.”
Among those who joined the outcry are five former census directors, historians and mathematicians, including some from within the White House. They maintain a significant number of people would be deterred from responding to the census, mostly in Latino and Hispanic communities. They also point to racist uses of the citizenship question in the past including the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II.
At the heart of the opposition’s fears is how the Trump Administration would use the citizenship data particularly when it comes to Hispanic or Latino communities and immigrants. In recent weeks the administration has positioned to increase its hardline approach to immigrants, mostly on the US-Mexico border.
The majority of the concerns stem from a fear of non-respondents in those communities which could lead to an undercount. An undercount or large irregularity in census data could have wide reaching effects on representation in Congress, federal program funding and state assistance. Hunter called those fears “unwarranted assumptions that are reckless, and irresponsible.”
But recent studies, including a joint study from professors at UCLA and George Washington University, which estimated a citizenship question could reduce the response rate by 7 to 10 percent, which would translate into millions of uncounted people living in the US. In Oklahoma, roughly 432,000 people consider themselves Latino or Hispanic and 235,000 people are immigrants.
"It will severely undermine the accuracy of the census count, particularly in communities of color, which stand to lose representation and federal resources as a direct result," ACLU-OK Legal Director Jill Webb said.
The decision whether to add the question is currently being debated at the US Supreme Court. Hunter joined 15 other states in writing an amicus brief in support of the question before oral arguments began last week.
Justices could deliver their decision as early as next month or sometime in the fall.