Citizenship Question Has No Place on the 2020 Census

March 28, 2018 Press Release
Contact: Jeffrey Moy, Vice President for Public Affairs, jmoy@jacl.org
David Inoue, Executive Director, dinoue@jacl.org

The Japanese American Citizens League objects to the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census questionnaire. The Constitution calls for the census to count all persons in the country, not just citizens. The Justice Department has requested the addition of this question knowing that it has the potential to scare immigrants into not responding to the survey. The administration will fail its Constitutional duty to complete an accurate decennial count.

Japanese Americans are fully aware of the implications of how the census data can be abused. During World War II, the Census Bureau released the specific names and addresses of Japanese Americans to the US Secret Service. This was kept secret for decades and only fully revealed just over 10 years ago. We remind people of this story because it is clearly within the realm of possibility that the census can be weaponized against communities such as our own.

The chilling effect on a full and accurate count cannot be accepted. The government has a constitutional mandate to conduct a true and accurate count. The impacts of an inaccurate count are numerous from apportionment of government resources and representation to the public utility of census data for public policy and business planning. We cannot afford to have an inaccurate count.

We urge Congress to act quickly to overturn this decision and block the addition of a citizenship question to the census.

The Japanese American Citizens League is a national organization whose ongoing mission is to secure and maintain the civil rights of Japanese Americans and all others who are victimized by injustice and bigotry. The leaders and members of the JACL also work to promote cultural, educational and social values and preserve the heritage and legacy of the Japanese American community.

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