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.