Free Minds & Free Markets

Will a New Question Scare Illegal Immigrants Away from the Census?: New at Reason

Joanna AndreassonJoanna AndreassonWhen the idea of measuring the United States' population every 10 years was first codified, the mission was pretty straightforward: Tally up the "Number of free Persons" living in each state so that seats in the U.S. House of Representatives can be apportioned accordingly.

Many things have changed since then, not least the definition of "free persons." But the primary directive of what has come to be known as the Census has remained the same. Until now.

On March 26, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the decennial survey in 2020 will for the first time in 70 years ask all respondents about their citizenship status. Ross made that call despite warnings from six previous directors of the Census Bureau that doing so would place the "accuracy" of the study at "grave risk," due to the likely increase in nonresponses among households and communities with heavy concentrations of illegal immigrants, writes Matt Welch.

Photo Credit: Joanna Andreasson


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