Election 2020 – Why the Census matters

Written by on February 20, 2019

There has been a lot of discussion over the last few days regarding a change to the census form that is to be issued across the US. The aim is to have a question regarding citizenship status added to the form. This is something that is hotly contested by the democratic party who state that it will result in fewer people returning the census forms from fear that this question could lead to deportation.

There is a glaring issue in this discussion, and one that comes up a great deal when considering US politics, particularly around immigration. That is the fact that there seems to be no differentiation between legal and illegal immigration when it is discussed by the Democrats. Whenever there is talk of stricter border controls being put in place there is always a charge of racism levelled at the person who proposed such a move, this is as a result of that person being anti-immigrant. I don’t see how this is the case when the legal immigration system has been the same or similar for as long as I can remember, and if it is the legal system that needs to be changed, perhaps bringing that up would help.

My parents live in the US, having immigrated there legally and are not citizens. There is no fear for them in filling in the census form as there is no way that such information could possibly lead to any negative issues as it is not required to be a citizen if you live in the US, only to vote.

Therein lies the issue that I feel is more pressing, and not mentioned so often. Donald Trump has made a point to mention the fact that there was a great deal of voter fraud in the last election, investigations, again well publicised, in Texas have shown that to be the case. It does not take a great deal of consideration to look suspiciously at this and wonder if this is in fact the reason why some people are against the question, if voter fraud, or non-citizens voting, is the end goal.

The census is of course used in order to aid the division of funds to certain areas of the country and government schemes and services based on the population dynamics of the area. It could be argued that a true amount for the number of people in an area is most useful here, but once again there are people who would wonder why such government money should take into account illegal immigrants to the country. The illegal immigration issue is hotly contested currently, and this doesn’t seem to be waning as yet, though it will be interesting to see what difference, if any, is made by the border wall that Trump is building.

The census issue may seem trivial at first glance, an argument over the inclusion of a question, which was previously included in the census up to 2000, seems uninteresting and petty. What is most interesting is the implications that such a, seemingly, simple issue can have on the overall political landscape, especially as the election draws closer.


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