The U.S. Census Is the Trump Presidency’s Latest Tool for Disenfranchising Entire Communities
We reported in March of last year that the Trump Administration dropped a proposed question about LGBT identity from the 2020 U.S. Census. Additionally, his administration wants to include a question asking respondents whether they’re U.S. citizens, which according to experts will ensure the Census under-reports undocumented people.
Both moves suggest Trump is looking to leave LGBTs and undocumented people — two populations which typically despise this presidency — out of the tally that determines U.S. policy and government funding for the next decade.
The U.S. Census (which happens every 10 years) is supposed to tally the entire United States population, not just documented citizens. And although the Trump administration claims it wants to count the number of U.S. citizens to better enforce provisions of the Voting Rights Act preventing racial discrimination, former Census Bureau directors worry that Trump’s vocal anti-immigrant sentiment and his increased deportation of undocumented citizens will make millions of census respondents scared to respond at all, let alone mention how many undocumented people live in their homes.
U.S. Census numbers are used to reapportion seats in Congress and determine how billions in federal funding are distributed on national, statewide and local levels. There are 11.3 million undocumented people in the United States, mostly living in urban centers that largely voted against Trump. About half of them pay billions in income taxes. A fraction of these go untallied in the census already because of scared respondents, but if their tally drops even lower, that will ensure they remain politically powerless and that cities remain underfunded to help them.
There’s a smaller Census Bureau survey called the American Community Survey that asks a representative proportion of the U.S. population about their citizenship, which makes this new question unnecessary. And at least 14 states agree. They’ve filed a lawsuit to keep the citizenship question off of the census. Of them, Pennsylvania is the only red state.
Trump’s move to keep LGBT people and undocumented residents from being included in the U.S. Census should be viewed as deliberate considering his other moves against both communities. After his 2016 inauguration, he quickly removed a page on LGBT rights from the White House website (which has never been restored). Last October, his Department of Health removed any mention of LGBT people from its strategic plan for the next few years. And his Department of Justice thinks anti-LGBTQ discrimination doesn’t really exist because it’s too new and not as bad as racism.