Dems push DOJ for answers on Census citizenship question request

Dems push DOJ for answers on Census citizenship question request
© Getty Images

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee are demanding answers from the Department of Justice (DOJ) on why it asked for a question about citizenship to be added to the 2020 Census.

In a letter sent on Friday, lawmakers gave acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore until March 26 to respond to a series of questions about his role, the Civil Rights Division’s role and the role of the White House in making the request.

“We are deeply troubled not just by the request to add a citizenship question, but by the impact that such a question would have on the accuracy of the 2020 Census,” they wrote.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The census is already underfunded, and the Census Bureau is currently operating without key personnel, including a permanent director. We are concerned that the addition of a citizenship question will depress participation among immigrants and those who live in mixed-status households. And we have serious doubts about the need to add such a question to the census,” they wrote.

In the DOJ request obtained first by ProPublica, the agency said it needs the data to better enforce the Voting Rights Act and “its important protections against racial discrimination in voting.”

But given Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump reignites court fight with Ninth Circuit pick Democrats press Nadler to hold Lewandowski in contempt Pelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' MORE’s crackdown on illegal immigrants, census experts say the question could seriously skew the numbers if people are too frightened to respond.

Census data is used to redraw House districts and the number of House seats each state receives also plays a part in determining each state’s number of electoral votes in a presidential election.

By law, the bureau has to provide Congress with the final wording of the census questionnaire by March 31.