2020 Census Sample Comment

We collectively submitted 136 comments during the August comment period. The next comment period will be in the fall of 2019. SAALT and DRUM will once again share guidance, including the template below, to maximize the number of comments South Asian Americans submit.

Together we can reach 500 comments for the 5 million South Asian Americans in the U.S.!

 

For guidance around language for your comments:

Personalize your comment.

We need to show the diversity of voices in opposition to the citizenship question. You are encouraged to personalize your comment using the data we provided in our webinar.

Some questions to consider in personalizing your comment:

  • How will an inaccurate count impact your local community and state?
  • Do you have specific programs or projects funded by the state or local government that are at risk of being under-funded?
  • How might this impact political representation in your communities?
  • How will your community demographic affect their response rate?
  • Many South Asian families live in mixed-status households, do they feel safe responding to a citizenship question?

Sample Comment:

Dear Ms. Jessup,

I write to offer comments on the 2020 Census proposed information collection. I urge the Department of Commerce to remove the citizenship question from the 2020 Census form, as it will jeopardize the accuracy of the census in all communities, further endanger immigrant communities, and deprive critically needed federal funds at the state and municipal levels – an outcome that the nation will have to live with for the next 10 years.

I do not understand why the federal government is requesting information about an individual’s citizenship status on the Census and for what purpose this information will be used. I’m worried that adding a question about citizenship status sends the message that non-citizens, documented or undocumented, are being counted and tracked — a message that could sway many in our communities to fail to respond to the survey.

The precedent for utilizing Census data to target specific populations exists in the United States. It has been confirmed that the 1940 Census was used to identify and forcibly relocate Japanese Americans into internment camps. In the current political environment, immigrants are being targeted by policies ranging from the Muslim Ban to mass deportations, detentions, and even denaturalizations, and their worst fears are realized when federal agents invade homes, schools, and places of worship and families are torn apart both at the U.S. border and in the heart of communities. We will not allow the Census to become another tool that aids these policies.

Not surprisingly, the request has drawn intense opposition from a nonpartisan and ideologically broad group of business leaders, state and local officials, social scientists, and civil and human rights advocates who know how much is at stake with a fair and accurate census. This question undermines OMB’s objectives by maximizing burden on both Census employees and residents while delivering the least possible public benefit.

I believe a full, fair, and accurate census, and the collection of useful data about our nation’s people, housing, economy, and communities, is vitally important. [ADD YOUR ANSWERS TO ANY OF THE QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER. You can discuss the potential undercount for your specific community demographic or the impact on political representation.] A nationwide census is required by the Constitution, and it is unconstitutional to require an individual to provide their citizenship status when the vital information being collected will be used to ensure that district lines and political power are fairly drawn and allocated. The federal government uses census-derived data to direct at least $800 billion annually in federal assistance to states, localities, and families. The data also guide important community decisions affecting schools, housing, health care services, business investment, and much more. Simply put, a fair and accurate census is essential for all basic functions of our society. That is why the 2020 Census should not include a question on citizenship that the weight of scientific evidence indicates will undermine a successful count of our nation’s people. [ADD INFORMATION THAT IS SPECIFIC TO YOUR COMMUNITY. You can use this state-by-state breakdown on allocation of federal funds and name specific categories.]

A citizenship question will drive up costs as the Census Bureau struggles to develop new communications and outreach strategies with little time remaining, plan for an expanded field operation, and track down the millions of households that will be more reluctant to participate because of this controversial question. In sum, asking about citizenship status in a climate of fear and mistrust will only heighten suspicions, depress response rates, cost additional taxpayer money, and thwart an accurate, inclusive 2020 enumeration.

A full, fair, and accurate census is absolutely critical for our community. For the reasons discussed above, I strongly oppose asking about citizenship status in the 2020 Census and urge the Department of Commerce to remove the proposed citizenship question from all data collection forms.

Sincerely,