In killing citizenship question, Trump adopts Census Bureau’s preferred solution to a thorny problem

After all the sound and fury, after all the lies and pretence:

President Donald Trump’s decision this afternoon to abandon plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and instead rely on existing government records to generate citizenship statistics matches the Census Bureau’s preferred option for dealing with the politically explosive issue. It’s also a win for those who have wanted to keep such a charged question off the decennial headcount.

“This is Option C,” says former Census Director John Thompson, referring to a March 2018 memo in which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross spelled out several options for developing a citizenship tally, and gave his rationale for deciding to include the question on the count that will begin on 1 April. Option C “is what the Census Bureau proposed to Secretary Ross,” adds Thompson, who stepped down in June 2017, a few months after Ross began his clandestine efforts to get the Department of Justice to request the question. Ross eventually chose what he called Option D, a combination of using information already in government agency files, known as administrative records, along with a yes/no question about citizenship on the census questionnaire sent to U.S. households.

The Supreme Court, however, blocked Ross’s decision, saying he had violated administrative law by providing a “contrived” rather than a “genuine” explanation for why he wanted to add the question. Critics of the question say it would have prompted many people living in the United States to decline to answer the census, leading to an undercount of the population, and was motivated by a desire to reduce the political power of regions that tend to support Democratic candidates.

Today, speaking at a hastily arranged one-way press conference in which he took no questions, Trump said he will issue an executive order telling every federal agency to “immediately” provide the Commerce Department with “all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in our country.” He said the goal is to generate “an accurate count of how many citizens, non-citizens, and illegal aliens are in the United States of America. Not too much to ask.”

Census experts say that the agency should be able to satisfy the president’s request to develop data on the first two categories – citizens and non-citizens. And the Census Bureau already has agreements with a number of federal and state agencies that allow it to access administrative records that include some citizenship information, according to this 2018 analysis by bureau researchers. But using administrative records to determine the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. is not possible, the experts say. And that’s a good thing, believes Robert Santos, vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.

“What this administration really wanted was a tally of those who are undocumented,” says Santos, who is also president-elect of the American Statistical Association. “But that’s not going to happen. They will fly under the radar.” As a result, he says, “now they can participate in the census without fear” of political repercussions.

It’s also good news for Census Bureau, he adds. Extracting the agency from the bitterly partisan national debate over immigration should allow it to do its job of carrying out a complete and accurate census, he says.

Civil rights groups opposing the question also hailed the president’s decision as a victory but said they hadn’t given up their fight against the administration’s policies. “This is a welcome reprieve of his partisan agenda, and a win for all communities,” says Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference Education Fund in Washington, D.C. “[But] we remain on guard to combat any attempts to sabotage a fair and accurate count.”

Source: In killing citizenship question, Trump adopts Census Bureau’s preferred solution to a thorny problem

And further commentary:

Donald Trump pretended he was doing something meaningful on Thursday after he was forced to cave in on adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

But his post-cave bait-and-switch to push an executive order is also going up in flames almost immediately after it was issued.

Page said:

“So just saying it’s not a cave does not make it not a cave. Just the attorney general saying congratulations, Mr. President, does not make it a congratulatory moment. And the executive order, it is not at all clear that it’s necessary to have a new executive order to give publicly available data from federal agencies to the Commerce Department. That would seem to be something that would be easy to do. And in fact, as you noted, the government already calculates the number of illegal immigrants and the number of non-citizens who live in this country, and they’ve done that for some time.”

Trump is pulling out all the distractions after his census cave-in

Donald Trump’s executive order stunt that he announced on Thursday isn’t the only distraction he’s pulling out following his census loss.

It was also reported today that the administration would move forward with its raids on thousands of undocumented migrant families. According to The New York Times, “Nationwide raids to arrest thousands of members of undocumented families have been scheduled to begin Sunday, according to two current and one former homeland security officials.”

The raids, which had been delayed last month due to widespread backlash, will likely separate more families. Even the president’s acting DHS secretary has admitted as much.

Of course, none of these steps are being taken because they are sound policy solutions. They are just the latest in a two-year string of distractions meant to paper over an endless string of policy and political failures from this White House.

Source: Trump’s Citizenship Executive Order Is Already Going Up In Flames

The Other Census Disaster That’s Waiting to Happen

Have seen earlier discussion of the issue but this is the most comprehensive analysis:

Everyone hoping for an accurate 2020 Census breathed a sigh of relief two weeks ago when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to block the Trump administration’s cynical attempt to add a citizenship question to the forms—only to experience Twitter-tantrum whiplash when the president ordered his administration to make a last-ditch attempt to include it.

But with so much attention focused on the controversy over the citizenship question, another similarly disastrous Census Bureau decision has gone largely unnoticed: the administration’s choice not to substantively update the decennial survey’s questions on race. As a result, no matter how conscientiously Census Bureau staff administer the survey, a woefully inadequate portrait of the changing face of America will emerge.

The last census, in 2010, became a data disaster when “some other race,” showed up as the third-largest racial group in America. Over 20 million respondents, most with roots in Latin America or the Middle East, selected this none-of-the-above option, making it the most popular choice after white and black. Any time a public-opinion survey asks respondents to self-categorize and “none of the above” comes back as a popular answer, it’s a clear sign that the choices given don’t match up with people’s identities.

Facing this problem squarely, the Obama administration convened the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations, a panel of academic experts and minority community leaders, to advise the Bureau on improving its race questions for 2020. The committee made myriad recommendations, most crucially suggesting that a “Middle East or North Africa” category sit alongside the “Hispanic origins” box in the upcoming questionnaire. But the Trump administration overruled this advice and, aside from a few minor tweaks, is flying into the 2020 survey without substantive changes. Given continued Latin American and Middle Eastern immigration since 2010, and the more extreme forms of racial “othering” these groups have faced ever since candidate Donald J. Trump came down the escalator in 2015, experts fear that “some other race” will become the second-largest racial group in America according to the 2020 Census.

Every census since the founding of the country has asked about race and ethnicity. Until recent decades, race was not a matter of self-identification; historically, federal census-takers were charged with determining the race of each resident of their assigned census tracts according to their era’s standards. Tracing how race questions have changed over time offers a time-lapse history of American racial concepts in 10-year snapshots. (All of the race questions are conveniently archived on the website racebox.org.)

The most drastic changes to the census race questions took place after the fall of Reconstruction, at the rise of Jim Crow, when America’s mixed-race realities were blotted out and a strict racial binary imposed. Openly mixed-race activists, in particular Charleston’s “Browns” and New Orleans’s “Creoles of color,” had been central to post-Civil War civil rights progress. Their court challenges to segregation, of which Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) was only the last and most famous, assailed the notion that Europeans and Africans remained distinct racial groups in America given centuries of overt and covert race-mixing. At the time, the “one-drop rule” that any African ancestry at all made an American a “Negro” was still new and not widely accepted. This more fluid racial mindset was reflected in the late 19th-century censuses, which all catalogued biracial “mulattos” as distinct from “whites” and “blacks.” The 1890 questionnaire recorded even finer-grained mixed-race categories: “quadroon” (an American with three European grandparents and one African grandparent) and “octoroon” (an American with seven European great-grandparents and one African great-grandparent). But with the firm establishment of the color line post-Plessy, the 1900 census switched to a unitary race. (Not until 2000 would the census again allow respondents to claim mixed-race identities, this time by checking more than one racial box.)

“Only in 1980 did the Census begin to grapple with Latino identity.”

As segregation took root, the stakes of being deemed “white” grew higher. Even as Jim Crow laws proliferated in the early 20th century, the states differed on their official definitions of what exactly a “white person” was and who precisely constituted a “colored person.” Myriad ethnic groups clamored to get into whiteness, often petitioning through the courts. “Semites,” for example, won their way into whiteness using clever, albeit pseudo-scientific, arguments. Their trump card, first argued in 1907 by H. A. Elkourie, a Syrian Christian physician in Birmingham, Alabama, was that if he wasn’t white then Jesus hadn’t been white either. Anglo-Americans’ revulsion at the thought they were worshipping a person of color each Sunday was strong enough that Elkourie and the fellow members of his “Semitic” “race” were deemed “white.”

The next major revamp of the census’s race questions came in the wake of the 1960s civil rights movement. For the first time, the Census Bureau empowered each respondent to choose her own race rather than have a census-taker determine it for her. And embracing the modern understanding that race has no biological reality, only societal meanings, the Census Bureau modified the racial categories to learn more about American society rather than engage in the fool’s errand of sorting humans into some fixed number of distinct races. To this end, the 1970 Census listed eight racial categories, one of which was “Hawaiian”—a useful category for understanding American society but a group so tiny no early-20th-century race scientists ever elevated it into their core “Races of Man.”

Only in 1980 did the census begin to grapple with Latino identity. Rather than add “Hispanic” to the list of races, it introduced a question to stand apart from the various racial choices: “Is this person of Spanish/Hispanic origin or descent?” By noting that Hispanics can be of any race, the Census Bureau hoped to track the growth of this community that comes in all colors. But this well-meaning attempt never fully worked since the Latin American and Anglo-American conceptions of race are fundamentally incompatible.

While the U.S., after Reconstruction, forced Americans to claim a retroactive racial purity, Latin America never denied its mestizo realities. On the most recent Brazilian census, for example, the majority of respondents identified as afrodecendente (Afro-descended). But in Brazil this identity does not in any way suggest that the same person is not also of European, Native American, and/or Asian descent; indeed, over 80 percent of self-identified afrodecendente Brazilians claimed roots on non-African continents as well.

In Mexico, the concept of race (la raza) is even more un-American. The Mexican supposition is that the people of the New World are, in a sense, a new race unto themselves, a mixture of all the world’s peoples. It is these mutually-incompatible conceptions of race between the U.S. and Latin America that has led millions of census respondents to check that they are of Latino origin but are members of “some other race.”

Arab-Americans are similarly migrants from an alternate racial system. Arab identity embraces people of all skin colors and is largely tied to language—people whose mother tongue is Arabic are Arabs even if they don’t live on Asia’s Arabian Peninsula. Though officially white in America since the early-20th-century rulings that “Semites” are white, contemporary American racism has again called Arab whiteness into question.

“The best-case scenario is that none-of-the-above comes out as the third-largest race in America rather than second-largest.”

The most recent federal definition of a “white person,” formulated in 1997 by the Office of Management and Budget and currently used by the Census Bureau—“A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa”—clearly includes Arabs. But if “whiteness” has no biological reality and is purely a socially-constructed category in American society for those who enjoy full citizenship, including the presumption of innocence, since 9/11, Middle Easterners have no longer been white. This mismatch between being officially white by the federal definition but not being treated as white in American society has sparked a wildcat campaign among some Middle Easterners not to check the “white” box on the Census (tag-line: “Check it right, you ain’t white”). Indeed, the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations found many Middle Eastern- and North African-Americans are doing just that, checking “some other race” in defiance of the current federal definition of whiteness.

At this point the 2020 race questions are set, with just a few tweaks from 2010. The 2020 form will include “Lebanese” and “Egyptian” as examples of white ethnicities to remind Arabs to, essentially, “check it right, you are white.” The new wording also adds “Aztec” and “Mayan” as examples of American Indian ethnicities to instruct people with roots in the New World beyond the United States borders that they should still identify themselves as indigenous.

Even with these minor changes, the best-case scenario is that none-of-the-above comes out as the third-largest race in America rather than second-largest. Whiteness in America is in flux today in a way it hasn’t been in a century—even if the Census Bureau’s political appointees, in keeping with the Trump administration’s Know-Nothingism on race, won’t admit it. An administration that has backed border walls and Muslim bans has already shown Latinos and Middle Easterners that, if whiteness means first-class citizenship, they’re no longer white. The painful irony is that the rise of “some other race” at first glance suggests America is becoming post-racial, while its real roots are in rising racism.

Source: The Other Census Disaster That’s Waiting to Happen

Citizenship question causing an uproar in U.S. has been part of Canada’s census since 1901

Politicization and weaponization in contrast to the more neutral approach in Canada:

A politically divisive debate continues to rage over U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census. That same question has been part of Canada’s census form for over a century without a ripple.

Trump has been waging a fierce fight to add the controversial query to the 2020 census, and said Friday he’s now considering an executive order to get it done after a Supreme Court ruling blocked his efforts.

Canada’s own long form census asks: “Of what country is this person a citizen?” Respondents have a choice of three possible answers: ‘Canada, by birth,’ ‘Canada, by naturalization’ or ‘Other country – specify.’

A spokeswoman for Statistics Canada, which manages the census, said the citizenship data is vital to various programs.

“The citizenship question has a long history on the Canadian census, being introduced for the first time on the 1901,” said Emily Theelen in an email.

“This information is used to estimate the number of potential voters and to plan citizenship classes and programs. It also provides information about the population with multiple citizenships and the number of immigrants in Canada who hold Canadian citizenship.”

Theelen said Statistics Canada’s data quality assessment indicators have not flagged any issues specifically related to the citizenship question. The Library of Parliament could not find any significant debate, controversy or court case related to the inclusion of a citizenship question on the Canadian census form.

In the U.S., the Republican administration’s push has triggered a partisan firestorm because of the enormous political stakes.

The once-a-decade population count determines the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives among the states, and the disbursement of about $675 billion in federal funding.

Disadvantage for Democrats

The Census Bureau’s own experts have said the question would discourage immigrants from participating in the census, which would result in a less-accurate census. That, say critics, would redistribute money and political power away from Democrat-led urban districts — where immigrants tend to cluster — and toward whiter, rural areas where Republicans do well.

Immigration lawyer Lorne Waldman said the political and electoral landscape in Canada is drastically different from the one in the U.S. and would not allow for that kind of “gerrymandering” — the manipulation of electoral boundaries to favour one party over others.

“In Canada, we have an impartial electoral commission that redistributes the electoral boundaries according to the law based on objective criteria,” he said. “It’s not an issue here at all, because we don’t have that kind of gerrymandering that they have in the U.S.”

No sign of abuse in Canada

Waldman said it’s possible a census result showing a high percentage of undocumented people in a specific region of the U.S. could lead to stepped-up Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) patrols there.

Up to now, there has been no evidence that census information has been abused in that way in Canada.

The U.S. Justice Department said Friday it will continue to look for legal grounds to include the question on the census, but it did not say what options it’s considering.

The U.S. government already has begun the process of printing the census questionnaire without the citizenship question, but Trump suggested Friday that officials might be able to add the citizenship query to the questionnaire after it’s been printed.

In the Supreme Court’s decision last week, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s four more liberal members in saying the administration’s justification for adding the question “seems to have been contrived.”

The Trump administration has said the question was being added to aid in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters’ access to the ballot box.

Canada conducts a census every four years. The next census is due in 2020.

Source: Citizenship question causing an uproar in U.S. has been part of Canada’s census since 1901

Historical Fiction at the Supreme Court: The Census and Citizenship

Good critique:
A divided Supreme Court last week blocked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross from adding an untested citizenship question to the 2020 census. The Court’s ruling is a victory for representative democracy over the Trump administration’s latest power play, which would have led to a dramatic undercount of the country’s noncitizen population, with substantial implications for federal funding and political representation. In the process of reaching the right outcome, however, the Court has rewritten history, with justices up and down the bench joining together to create an atmosphere of normalcy around a question that is anything but.

Coming into the Supreme Court after a series of decisive trial-court defeats, Donald Trump’s administration really had only two defenses for the citizenship question: first, that it would help the Justice Department enforce the Voting Rights Act on behalf of minority communities; and second, that the administration was simply “reinstating” a question that had a deep “pedigree” stretching back “nearly 200 years.”

The Court rejected the Voting Rights Act defense as a pretext. That was all the challengers needed legally, since the law governing federal-agency decision making requires the stated reason for an agency’s action to be the real reason. But the Court accepted much of the administration’s historical argument—which is wrong, as we explained in a law-review article based on research into centuries-old census instructions, mid-century statistical texts, and decades of congressional proceedings.

Most significant, Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion and the partial concurrences are littered with assertions that the Trump administration was trying to “reinstate” the citizenship question. Even justices who were otherwise skeptical of the administration’s scheme and seemed to have a better grip on the historical record—Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor—referred repeatedly to “reinstatement.” That word obscures the nature of what the administration was trying to do.

Never in the 230-year history of the census has the complete-count questionnaire (or its equivalent) asked for the citizenship status of everyone in the country, as Ross proposed. When citizenship was asked at all, it was directed to small segments of the population, such as foreign-born men 21 or older (1890 to 1910) or foreign-born people (1930 to 1950), mainly to figure out how well they were assimilating into the United States. After the 1950 census, questions about citizenship or naturalization were confined to sample surveys that went to only a small percentage of households.

The Court acknowledged the change in census practice after 1950, but it mangled the details of the practice leading up to that point, incorrectly treating questions about “birthplace” and “citizenship” as equivalent and asserting that “between 1820 and 1950, the question was asked of all households.” The fact is that multiple censuses during that period had no citizenship question (1840, 1850, 1860, and 1880), and—as mentioned—those that did include one did not direct it at every person in a household. These various errors allowed the Court to ignore the ultimate conclusion it should have drawn from the history: The Trump administration’s gambit was unprecedented, not a return to form.

The majority opinion also soft-pedaled the Census Bureau’s decision to remove all citizenship and naturalization questions from the decennial census following the 1950 count. It is true, as the Court claims, that the bureau concluded that citizenship information had declined in importance to the government, researchers, and other users of census data by this time. But the bureau didn’t just get rid of questions that were unimportant—it overhauled its whole approach, because traditional practices were deficient in accomplishing the one thing the Constitution’s enumeration clause requires the government to do: count everyone in the country.

Traditionally, the federal government tried to do two things at once with the census: count all heads and collect other useful information. By the 1950s, the Census Bureau’s social-science skills had evolved sufficiently that it could evaluate how well it was doing its job, and it found that the second ambition was impeding the first; the count was missing millions while wasting resources. So the bureau stripped out extraneous questions from the main survey, including dozens of other “demographic questions,” as the Court called them. Census Director Robert W. Burgess explained the benefits of these changes to Congress in the lead-up to the 1960 census: “For a long time, the Census Bureau has believed that enumerators were being burdened with more instructions and work than they could effectively handle, with the result that both coverage and content suffered.

The majority similarly understated the Census Bureau’s resistance to proposals in the 1970s and ’80s that would have required it to assess everyone’s citizenship status. According to the Court, the bureau was concerned that such efforts “would discourage noncitizens from responding to the census,” and, in the words of a 1980 district-court opinion characterizing the bureau’s position, that those efforts would “inevitably jeopardize the overall accuracy of the population count.” During this period, Census Bureau Director Vincent Barabba warned that the “census is just not designed for” asking everyone’s citizenship status, and that doing so would erode “the credibility of the Bureau, and, more importantly, the credibility and public confidence in—and, indeed, the accuracy of—the figures embodied in the final census results.” Similarly, the bureau warned—in language from the 1980 case omitted by the Court last week—that “questions as to citizenship are particularly sensitive in minority communities and would inevitably trigger hostility, resentment, and refusal to cooperate.” The concern during this period, then, wasn’t some unspecified loss of accuracy due to “discouragement”; it was a full collapse of the census and everything it stands for, driven by widespread fear of, and anger toward, the government.In his partial concurrence, Breyer supplied some of this crucial context, but a majority made up of Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh overlooked it in ruling that the administration’s decision didn’t violate the Constitution’s enumeration clause. They asserted that citizenship questions have been “open, widespread, and unchallenged since the early days of the Republic.” This is preposterous. If “history matters”—as the conservative majority asserts—it must matter that Ross proposed to do something that has, in fact, never been done before. And it must matter that, for the past 70 years, the Census Bureau—the agency primarily charged with counting everyone—believed that citizenship questions and a whole host of other demographic questions didn’t belong on the decennial headcount, because they made it impossible to … count everyone. The Court thus sent the message that a citizenship question on the decennial census would be normal. The Court blocked the question because Ross lied about why he wanted it; but if he hadn’t lied, it would have been fine.

For more than a year now, the simple prospect of a citizenship question on the 2020 census has elevated vulnerable communities’ fears of the federal government. The Supreme Court’s ruling should help mitigate those fears somewhat. But the Court could have and should have taken a far stronger posture than it did, ruling not that the citizenship question was administratively imperfect, but that it was unconstitutional and un-American.

Source: Historical Fiction at the Supreme Court

Why Trump Lost the Census Case

Good analysis from the right:

I’ll freely admit, I’m surprised. In April I predicted that the Trump administration would prevailin its effort to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census form. I based my conclusion on the combination of Congress’s broad delegation of authority to the executive branch to conduct the census in the “form and content” that the secretary of commerce determines, the historical norm of including citizenship questions, and the traditional leniency of so-called arbitrary and capricious review.

Against this legal background, I believed that — like with the travel-ban case — a chaotic process would matter less than the very broad discretion granted the president by existing law. I was wrong.

Today, Justice John Roberts joined the four more progressive judges to reach a legal conclusion (articulated in a complex series of interlocking and competing concurrences and dissents) that roughly goes as follows: Including a citizenship question in the census is not “substantively invalid.” However, the Administrative Procedure Act applies, and it is “meant to ensure that agencies offer genuine justifications for important decisions, reasons that can be scrutinized by courts and the interested public.” Since the administration’s explanation for its agency’s action was “incongruent with what the record reveals about the agency’s priorities and decisionmaking process,” the administration failed to meet its APA obligations.

The secretary of commerce had pointed to an assertion from the Department of Justice that the question would assist in voting-rights enforcement. To put it simply, the majority did not buy that explanation, finding that it was more of a rationalization: The secretary of commerce decided to include the question, went hunting for a reason, and eventually got the DOJ to help.

Quite frankly, this sounds about right. As the Court put it, “the evidence tells a story that does not match the explanation the Secretary gave for his decision.” This section of the opinion is instructive:

“The record shows that the Secretary began taking steps to reinstate a citizenship question about a week into his tenure, but it contains no hint that he was considering VRA [Voting Rights Act] enforcement in connection with that project. The Secretary’s Director of Policy did not know why the Secretary wished to reinstate the question, but saw it as his task to “find the best rationale.”

A different way of putting the opinion is that the APA, at the very least, requires an honest process.

Why was this outcome different from that of the travel-ban case? In that case, the president himself offered evidence that the stated reasons for the administration’s actions were pretextual. The president himself provided evidence that anti-Muslim animus provided at least part of the justification for his order. Yet in that case the statue at issue was different. If the census statutes granted the president considerable discretion, the statute at issue in the travel ban granted him truly immense discretion, unbounded by the APA. Different statutes yield different outcomes.

So now what? There is much speculation on Twitter that the administration may have time to go back to the drawing board, conduct a proper process in accord with truthful, justifiable reasoning, and obtain legal approval in time to print the census forms.

It’s possible, but I’m skeptical. First, there are now real questions as to whether the process was improperly influenced by arguments by deceased Republican redistricting expert Thomas Hofeller that adding the citizenship question would be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” Evidence of racial animus would almost certainly alter the legal calculus and require the administration to go to great lengths to show that any new process has been cleansed from any racist taint.

Plaintiffs will again challenge any effort to include the question, they’ll likely obtain injunctions in favorable jurisdictions, and then the clock will become the administration’s enemy. I could well be wrong, but I’m doubtful SCOTUS will have an opportunity to opine before that clock runs out.

There is a lesson here, one that the administration (and indeed, all litigants) would do well to remember. When engaged in conduct that’s likely to lead to litigation, make it easy for the court to rule for you. Chaos can lose cases. Evidence of disingenuousness alienates judges.

Process matters, and you always want to appear to be the most reasonable party before the court. The Trump administration has gotten away with chaos before. It did not today, and as much as conservatives may once again grow angry at Justice Roberts for joining the Court’s progressive wing, if they want to place real blame for today’s Supreme Court setback, look to the administration. Its lack of candor caught up to it, and honesty may now come too late.

Source: Why Trump Lost the Census Case

Recent immigrants and non-permanent residents missed in the 2011 Census

May have missed this but important analysis of the data limitations regarding immigrants and non-permanent residents in the 2011 NHS, regarding the characteristics of those missed and plausible explanations.

No discussion as to whether the shift from the mandatory long-form census questionnaire to the voluntary NHS questionnaire made a difference and we will see once an equivalent analysis is done for the 2016 census:

Recent immigrants and NPRs are growing segments of the Canadian population. While censuses strive to provide comprehensive coverage of the population, these groups are less likely to be enumerated. The purpose of this analysis was to examine the factors associated with the propensity for being missed in the 2011 Census for recent immigrants and NPRs using RRC data.

According to the RRC, just under 20% of recent immigrants and more than 40% of NPRs were missed by the 2011 Census, compared with 8.3% of the total population. While missed rates are not a direct reflection of undercoverage but are rather one of the elements of undercoverage, they are still a clear sign that these two populations could have been less covered than the rest of the population in the 2011 Census.

Some characteristics of recent immigrants and NPRs are associated with the propensity for being missed.

First of all, this study highlighted the close links between the year at landing and the propensity of recent immigrants for being missed. More than one-third of immigrants who settled in 2011 and almost a quarter of those who settled in 2010 were missed in the 2011 Census. Immigrants who held a temporary residence permit before being admitted as immigrants were also slightly less likely to be missed, when the effect of other characteristics are accounted for.

About 30% of recent immigrants whose mother tongue was Punjabi were missed in the 2011 Census. The multivariate analysis also highlighted the higher likelihood for immigrants with an Arabic mother tongue to be missed. These results might stem from cultural factors specific to immigrants from certain countries, notably regarding social integration to Canada.

The context in which immigrants are admitted to the country might also affect the likelihood to be missed in the census. While a fifth of immigrants were missed in 2011, 12.3% of refugees were missed. These immigrants fled very difficult situations in their home country and usually maintain contacts with the Canadian government on a regular basis. For these reasons, they may have a better relationship with the government.

Multivariate analysis identified additional correlates of the likelihood for recent immigrants to be missed. Immigrants who were in a couple, who were living in Quebec and who were under the age of 20 were less likely to be missed. These results are similar to the ones observed for the entire Canadian population.

Knowledge of the official languages is a very important marker of integration into a new country. Recent immigrants who reported not speaking English or French at landing seem to be less likely to be missed. This could be because they take language training classes, which might introduce them to the topic of the census, because they learn an official language shortly after landing, and because of differences in concepts and measurement of concepts between census data and IRCC data. It would be very relevant to examine the 2016 RRC data when they become available to see if there is the same finding.

For NPRs, the duration of the permit held by NPRs played a role in being missed in the 2011 Census. For example, more than half of NPRs who received their temporary resident permit no more than six months before the census were missed in 2011. Because they arrived in the country very recently, these NPRs may consider their usual residence to still be in their country of origin, and therefore not consider themselves part of the census universe. Conversely, 36.4% of NPRs who were granted temporary residence two or more years before census day were missed.

Missed rates for NPRs were above 45% for NPRs who were not in a couple. NPRs in their twenties were also more likely to be missed. As with immigrants, these results tend to be similar to the results of the general population.

When accounting for the effect of other factors, NPRs who held their first temporary permit were less likely to be missed than those who already had a permit in the past. This is difficult to interpret and could be studied a second time when the 2016 RRC data become available. It should be noted that the sample from the NPR frame was increased in 2016; as a result, more precise analyses could be conducted for this subpopulation when the data become available.

Refugee status claimants were less likely to be missed than other NPRs. However, the multivariate analysis revealed that much of this difference could come from the specific characteristics of refugee claimants, including their length of stay in the country.

Source: Statistics Canada – Catalogue no. 89-657-X2019008 25 –Recent immigrants and non-permanent residents missed in the 2011 Census (NHS)

They Know That America Isn’t Great

Sharp commentary on the ongoing and deepening citizenship census question scandal:

The president may be a fool, but that doesn’t make him an ineffective racist. That would presuppose that it takes great talent to be good at hating people and furthering that hatred through policy. Donald Trump is quite adept at finding America’s weaknesses, a trait he shares with the Russians who helped him win the election. Both his White House and the Kremlin know just where to look first: America’s persistent racism. It is always easier to find holes in the boat and to punch new ones, than to devise methods for plugging them and keeping everything afloat.

One such weakness is the Census, which this administration has sought to weaponize as an undocumented immigrant address book for ICE and, as a consequence, a way to erode Hispanic and Latinx influence at the ballot box. We knew that the Trump administration’s proposed citizenship question for the 2020 Census was racist. But the ACLU revealed Thursday new proof that the question, which the group is now challenging before the Supreme Court, was explicitly crafted with the purpose of helping white people become more politically powerful.

Most everything Republicans do is to protect their power these days, and virtually all of them are white, so this isn’t a difficult calculus. Intent isn’t required for a racist act, but there still was plenty here. Thomas Hofeller — the late Republican strategist with a special talent for shaping racially discriminatory districts in places like North Carolina — “played a significant role in orchestrating the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Decennial Census” before his death last summer and intended to shape the citizenship question “in order to create a structural electoral advantage for, in his own words, ‘Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.’” Hofeller also added that it “would clearly be a disadvantage for the Democrats” and successfully predicted that implementing the question would “provoke a high degree of resistance from Democrats and the major minority groups in the nation.”

The administration also had the nerve to offer false justification for the citizenship question. In testimony before Congress in the spring of 2018, Ross insisted that the question’s intent was to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act — which, of course, prohibits racial discrimination in voting. It says a lot that the Trump administration sees these ramparts of our civil-rights infrastructure as devices to exploit.

The mechanism for diluting that power is simple: intimidation. A citizenship question introduces chaos into the Census, which counts everyone in the nation regardless of naturalization or immigration status. Since its possibility first arose in late 2017, experts have speculated that such a question would discourage participation in Hispanic and Latinx communities, so much so that people may not even open the door for Census takers. Why not? Why would they when they have every right to suspect that the Trump administration has weaponized the survey to use as an address book for ICE, allowing them to review the Census as a collection list for any and all undocumented people with the gumption to respond?

So, the administration appears to think it can erase people unlikely to vote Republican either by deporting them or by discouraging their responses. That includes the folks who may be citizens or are otherwise here legally, but may have mixed-status families and don’t feel that in this political climate, they can even open the door for a U.S. Census taker. They’re erased, too

Thirteen Democratic Senators, including five of their current presidential contenders, sent a letter Friday requesting the inspectors general of the Justice and Commerce Departments to investigate the ACLU’s findings. They want to know why the administration hid Hofeller’s participation from the public, thereby obscuring the rather obvious “impermissible racial and partisan motivations” for adding the question in the first place.

As if to put an exclamation point upon this, Trump imposed a 5-percent tariff effective June 10 upon all goods imported from Mexico that he plans to escalate until authorities in that country stop migrants from crossing our southern border (even, presumably, if they are not Mexican and are doing so to engage in the legal process of seeking asylum). To boil down the stupidity of this: the president, by fiat and without the approval of Congress, said he will impose a tax on the American people so as to discourage them from from buying products imported from Mexico. He will double this tax to 10 percent on July 1 unless the migration flow “is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico.”

This speaks to a more inherent American flaw that the ACLU is trying to correct with their challenge before the highest court. “I think this is bigger than voting rights or the Census,” Ho tells me. “It goes to whether, in the Trump era, we will have a federal government that is accountable to the courts, and ultimately, to the public. The administration is saying it’s doing something for one reason, while we all know that it’s doing it for the exact opposite reason — and if we are powerless to stop it, then we really have reached an Orwellian moment.”

Americans would do well to understand that, especially right now. Democrats, in particular. They have a primary frontrunner in Joe Biden who is campaigning (to the extent that he is at all) as if he has a flux capacitor in his DeLorean, promising to take voters back to a time before Trump, when apparently Republicans confirmed Merrick Garland and weren’t birthers and all was well. I hope he takes a cue from some of his competitors—folks like Kamala Harris, who proposed an abortion-rights law based upon that same Voting Rights Act, including federal preclearance for states who restrict reproductive access; or Elizabeth Warren, who called for Congress to pass a measure allowing for a president to be indictable.

Whoever is planning to replace this president has to not just plan for the considerable triage ahead. They have to fully understand that the America they want to lead into the future has a lot of structural weaknesses that are due purely to the consistent refusal of its powerbrokers to rid it of the identity-based inequities that have provided white men unearned advantages since day one of the republic.

Democrats, no matter how much they wish to sell the halcyon days of the Obama years or wish away the trauma of the present, cannot ignore the horror of that reality. Trump is showing it to them unvarnished. He is exposing every hole in the boat and punching out new ones every day. Any true patriot would understand that the kind of racism like what we see at work in the Census citizenship question is not what makes America great. It is sabotage.

Source: They Know That America Isn’t Great

Republican operative was behind U.S. census citizenship question: filing

Why I am not surprised:

The Trump administration concealed evidence that its proposal to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 U.S. census was intended to help Republicans draw favorable electoral maps, according to immigrant advocacy groups that sued the administration over the question last year.

In a filing in Manhattan federal court on Thursday, the groups said that the administration hid the fact during the course of the lawsuit that went to trial last year that Thomas Hofeller, a longtime Republican specialist on drawing electoral districts, played a “significant role” in planning the citizenship question.

The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to issue a final ruling by the end of June on whether the question can be added in time for next year’s census.

The challengers notified the high court about the new documents in a letter filed at the court on Thursday afternoon. They did not ask the Supreme Court to take any specific action.

The plaintiffs, which include the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee and Make The Road New York, learned of Hofeller’s role after his files came to light in separate litigation in North Carolina in which Republican-drawn electoral districts are being challenged.

A Justice Department representative said the allegations were a “last-ditch effort to derail the Supreme Court’s consideration of this case.”

“The Department looks forward to responding in greater detail to these baseless accusations in its filing on Monday,” the person said.

Manhattan-based U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman blocked the question’s inclusion following the trial, but the Supreme Court appeared poised to overturn that ruling at April’s oral argument.

According to Thursday’s filing, Hofeller concluded in a 2015 study that asking census respondents whether they are U.S. citizens “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites” in redistricting.

Hofeller went on to ghostwrite a draft letter from the U.S. Department of Justice to the Department of Commerce, asking for a citizenship question on the grounds it would help enforce voting rights, according to the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, said that administration officials gave false testimony about the origin of the question during the lawsuit, and have asked Furman to consider imposing unspecified sanctions against them.

Furman has scheduled a hearing on the request for June 5.

Reuters reported in April that the Trump administration believed its citizenship question could help Republicans in elections by enabling states to draw electoral maps based only on citizen population, rather than total population.

Opponents have said a citizenship question would cause a sizeable undercount by deterring immigrant households and Latinos from filling out the census forms, out of fear the information would be shared with law enforcement. That would, they argue, cost Democratic-leaning areas electoral representation in Congress and federal aid, benefiting President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans and Republican-leaning parts of the country.

Source: Republican operative was behind U.S. census citizenship question: filing

Companies That Rely On US Census Data Worry Citizenship Question Will Hurt

Same issues arose from the Canadian business community with respect to the 2011 National Household Survey, given the adverse impact on demographic and other data, particularly in smaller geographic areas:

Some critics of the citizenship question the Trump administration wants to add to the 2020 census are coming from a group that tends to stay away from politically heated issues — business leaders.

From longtime corporations like Levi Strauss & Co. to upstarts like Warby Parker, some companies say that including the question — “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” — could harm not only next year’s national head count, but also their bottom line.

How governments use census data is a common refrain in the lead-up to a constitutionally mandated head count of every person living in the U.S. The new population counts, gathered once a decade, are used to determine how congressional seats and Electoral College votes are distributed among the states. They also guide how hundreds of billions in federal tax dollars are spread around the country to fund public services.

What is often less visible is how the census data undergird decisions made by large and small businesses across the country. The demographic information the census collects — including the age, sex, race, ethnicity and housing status of all U.S. residents — informs business owners about who their existing and future customers are, which new products and services those markets may want and where to build new locations.

Weeks before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the citizenship question last month, more than two dozen companies and business groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief against the question. Its potential impact on the accuracy of census data, especially about immigrants and people of color, is drawing concern from both Lyft and Uber, as well as Levi Strauss, Warby Parker and Univision.

“We don’t view this as a political situation at all,” says Christine Pierce, the senior vice president of data science at Nielsen — a major data analytics company in the business world that filed its own brief with the high court. “We see this as one that is around sound research and good science.”

Next year, the Trump administration wants to use the census to ask about the citizenship status of every person in every household in the country through a question approved by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau. The collected responses, the administration maintains, would be used to better enforce Voting Rights Act protections against discrimination of racial and language minorities.

Researchers at the Census Bureau, however, recommended against adding a question, which they said would produce citizenship information that’s less accurate and more expensive than existing government data. The question could bump up the cost of the 2020 census by at least $121 million, according to the bureau’s latest estimates.

Three federal judges have issued orders blocking the question, and the issue is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices are expected to issue their ruling by the end of June.

“No substitute for a good census”

In the meantime, Nielsen and other companies are pushing back against the administration’s efforts.

Pierce says asking about a topic as sensitive as a person’s citizenship status is likely to discourage some people from participating in the head count. It’s also important, she adds, to test changes to a survey before implementing them.

The Census Bureau had not conducted a field test of a 2020 census form with a citizenship question before Ross decided to include the question.

Pierce emphasized these points last year in an affidavit for the New York-based lawsuits over the citizenship question. Through the court filing, she testified that Ross mischaracterized comments she made in a phone conversation they had that was later cited in Ross’ memo announcing his decision to add the question.

“If there is an undercount, that could carry through to our audience estimates and could mean that people will make decisions based on data that isn’t as accurate as it should be,” Pierce says, referring to the TV ratings that Nielsen produces using census data.

That data, Nielsen estimates, are tied to $90 billion in TV and video advertising.

“There’s just no substitute for a good census and having that count be as thorough as possible,” Pierce says.

Data that affect “our day-to-day lives”

The ride-hailing app Lyft is worried that an inaccurate census could mean that some communities may not get their fair share in federal funding for roads and public transportation over the next 10 years.

“That is a direct impact on our business because it means that those roads will end up being more clogged up and those people will have a harder time getting around,” says Anthony Foxx, a former U.S. secretary of transportation during the Obama administration who now serves as Lyft’s chief policy officer.

“This data that comes out of the census is not just some bureaucratic government data that sits in a vault somewhere that no one sees. It’s actually data that affects our day-to-day lives,” says Jessica Herrera-Flanigan, Univision’s executive vice president of government and corporate affairs.

Census Bureau research suggests including the question would discourage Latinos and Latinas from responding. Herrera-Flanigan is concerned that could lead to an undercount of Latinx residents.

“It’s a big lift”

Still, Univision is planning to talk up next year’s census on its TV programs. The children’s talent show Pequeños Gigantes recently featured a segment with kids attempting to explain what a census is.

“Regardless of what happens in the courts, we are going to be pushing people to know about the importance of the census and actually do it,” Herrera-Flanigan says. “It’s a big lift.”

It’s also tricky ground for businesses to navigate — especially after President Trump has tweeted his support of the citizenship question.

“The American people deserve to know who is in this Country,” Trump tweeted the day after the Supreme Court hearing.

At a public meeting earlier this month, Census Bureau official Burton Reist noted the bureau is running into hurdles trying to recruit businesses to promote the census.

“We had a meeting with McDonald’s, but that was a year ago. And we’ve had a hard time getting anything to come from it,” he explained to members of the bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations.

In response, Arturo Vargas — who leads the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, a member of the committee — said business leaders have told him they’re reluctant to promote a census that has become so “politicized” by the Commerce Department’s efforts to get a citizenship question added.

“This is now something that, even though it’s such a fundamental aspect of our democracy, that they themselves are not willing to be associated with something that is so controversial now,” Vargas said.

Reist said, so far, a promotional partnership is “underway” between the bureau and the J.M. Smucker Company.

NPR has confirmed the bureau is also in discussions with Procter & Gamble, the company behind Pampers, Luvs and other brands.

Since speaking with the bureau early last year, McDonald’s has “not made any decisions on this at this time,” a spokesperson for the company, Lauren Altmin, said in an email.

Source: Companies That Rely On Census Data Worry Citizenship Question Will Hurt

George Will: Supreme Court mulls citizenship question for census

Thoughtful column by Will:

The oral arguments the Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday will be more decorous than the gusts of judicial testiness that blew the case up to the nation’s highest tribunal. The case, which raises arcane questions of administrative law but could have widely radiating political and policy consequences, comes from the Enlightenment mentality of the nation’s Founders, and involves this question: Does it matter that a conspicuously unenlightened member of the president’s cabinet lied in sworn testimony about why he made a decision that he arguably has the statutory power to make?

Because America’s 18th century Founders were rational, empirical, inquisitive pursuers of evidence-based improvement, they placed in the Constitution’s second section after the preamble a requirement for a census. And the 14th Amendment stipulates the required actual enumeration, every 10 years, of “the whole number” of persons residing in the country. From 1820 (when Congress wanted “foreigners not naturalized” to be counted) through 1950, the census almost always included a citizenship question, and in 2018 Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross decided that the 2020 “short-form” questionnaire, the one that goes to every household, should include one. Ross has testified that he was “responding solely” to a Justice Department request for the question to provide data helpful to enforcement of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965.

A federal district judge called this Ross rationale “pretextual” because Ross was justifying a decision “already made for other reasons.” This was a polite but still stinging way of saying Ross lied, which he almost certainly did: Justice officials initially rejected Commerce’s request that it ask for a citizenship question, and said such data was unnecessary for VRA enforcement. The district judge said Commerce sought the Justice letter to “launder” the request for the citizenship question “through another agency,” this being just one of “a veritable smorgasbord” of rules violations by Ross and his aides.

Ross also testified that he was “not aware” of any discussions of the citizenship questions between Commerce and the White House. But after 18 states, 15 municipalities and various immigration advocacy groups sued, he acknowledged meeting early in 2017 with then-presidential adviser Stephen Bannon, an anti-immigration zealot. The district judge also said Ross “materially mischaracterized” — translation: lied about — a conversation with a polling expert in order to obfuscate the expert’s objections to the citizenship question.

Because more information is preferable to less, the citizenship question might seem sensible. However, the question might result in less information because the Census Bureau’s own experts believe that the citizenship question would cause 6.5 million people — almost one in 10 households includes one or more noncitizens — to not respond to the questionnaire for fear of law-enforcement consequences. The 6.5 million are approximately as many people as live in Indiana. Of the estimated 24 million noncitizens (about 7% of America’s population of almost 329 million), almost 11 million are here illegally.

The citizenship question is, the Trump administration insists, “a wholly unremarkable demographic question.” But why, then, was Ross so dishonest concerning its genesis? This is probably why: A substantial undercount would affect the formulas by which hundreds of billions of dollars of federal spending are dispersed, to the disadvantage of blue states and cities with large immigrant populations. Furthermore, because the 14th Amendment stipulates that seats in the House of Representatives shall be apportioned on the basis of “the whole number of persons in each state” regardless of citizenship, an undercount could cost some states, particularly blue states, congressional seats, and hence electoral votes.

The district court judge was scalding about the “egregious” behavior of Ross, who “in a startling number of ways” either “ignored, cherry-picked, or badly misconstrued” evidence, and “acted irrationally … in light of that evidence.” Yet the judge professed himself “unable to determine — based on the existing record, at least — what Secretary Ross’ real reasons for adding the citizenship question were.” Perhaps the judge was precluded from coming to a conclusion about Ross’ motives; the public is not.

This is another case in which Trump administration behavior (following equally indefensible Obama administration behavior) is provoking plaintiffs to ask the judiciary to police the blurry boundaries of executive discretion. The Supreme Court, however, is apt to decide that Ross’ wretched behavior does not alter the fact that Congress has granted to him sufficient discretion over the census to accommodate his decision to include the citizenship question. This, in spite of reasonable surmises about his motives that his behavior seemed designed to disguise.

Source: Will: Supreme Court mulls citizenship question for census