Eighteen state attorneys general, the District of Columbia and other jurisdictions, are suing to stop the Census Bureau from inquiring about people’s citizenship status.
The newspaper argues the question, last used in 1946, will deter illegal aliens from filling out the Census. It's something Rice University's Steve Murdock, former Census Bureau director, says could impact how federal dollars are distributed.
“States that have relatively large numbers of undocumenteds would have a smaller base of people from which they would receive federal and state funds, but they would still have those people who require goods and services from governments,” he says.
However, Steven Camarota with the Center for Immigration Studies says there's no proof the citizenship question would reduce the number of Census responses.
“We can look at the monthly data the Bureau is constantly releasing that includes this question, and we don't see any drop off in the foreign born,” he says.
Camarota believes the question will actually give states more, or even better, data to work with.
“It would allow us to do this post-survey analysis after the Census so we could finally know are we missing two percent or twenty percent of the immigrant population?”
A lower response to the citizenship question also could impact congressional representation. States like California, which is home to more illegal aliens than Ohio, has more members of Congress based on that overall population.
Private retailers also rely on accurate Census figures.
“Everyone buys goods and services, everyone buys groceries, everyone uses various forms of service,” says Dr. Murdock. “And they're going to want to have a way of estimating their markets, not partial markets.”