Prologue: Every ten years since 1950, the Census Bureau has counted the population of the United States. Originally, a government worker known as ‘enumerator’ would visit households and record the information. In later years, people filled in their own forms on paper or electronically.
Everyone who lived in a household would be counted. Adults and children. The number then became the basis in states for their representation in the House of Representatives. Many households were two or three generational, including older members who had emigrated from other countries. There was never a question of citizenship.
On Tuesday, April 23, The Supreme Court will hear a Trump Administration case proposing a Citizenship Question be added to the 2020 Census. Since 1960, the Census Bureau has been against adding a census question , saying “it would produce a less accurate population count. “ Five former Census Bureau directors from Republican and Democratic administrations wrote a brief to the Supreme Court against adding the Citizenship Question.
The purpose of this question is very clear. Donald Trump has been opposed to immigration since he came down the escalator in Trump Tower and castigated immigrants from Mexico as “rapists and murderers”. His successive bans on Muslims were in the courts for years. Other members of his inner circle have agreed. His chief of staff, General John Kelly said his formula for immigration from countries south of our border was” zero to one.” In addition, the fate of the young children who were brought by their parents to live in the United States, still remains in limbo. Many of “The Dreamers” have graduated from college and are working and paying taxes.
Trump Administration immigrant court battles: Last year the Supreme Court upheld a Trump ban on visitors to the U.S. from several Muslim countries. The High Court did temporarily block an administration plans to make it harder for people to claim asylum. The Justices are also considering an appeal that would allow Trump to end protections for The Dreamers. Last case: Federal judges in California, New York and Maryland have blocked the administration from going ahead with the citizenship question.
Census Bureau experts have said millions of Hispanics and immigrants would not be counted. That would cost several states a number of seats in The U.S. House and millions of federal dollars that are determined by the Census.
Historical Notation: See Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of The United States Constitution. You will find the phrase “three fifths of other persons”…. This refers to the black slaves in the southern states. It was the result of a compromise in 1787 between Southern and Northern states arguing about representation and taxes. It was changed in 1868 after the Civil War by the 14th Amendment, but still exists in print in copies, with the change in a footnote.
The infamous Dred Scott Supreme Court decision in 1857 had described the escaped slave as property of his owner.
Epilogue: Secretary of Commerce Ross proposed adding the Census Question to the 2020 Census. The urgency on the administration side is that copies must be printed at this time. The Supreme Court decision will not be made public until June.
We would appear to be taking a step back in time since the proposed Census Question by the Trump administration would turn back the clock to l787 . From that date on, some people living in the United States were counted as “three fifths of persons.”
Now in the 21st century, millions of undocumented immigrants would not be counted at all! Let us hope that the Justices of The Supreme Court believe that every human being counts in the United States of America.
…………………………………………………..Joyce S. Anderson