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Citizen question could have big impact on 2020 census

Census 2020
Posted at 11:36 PM, Apr 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-24 08:44:39-04

BALTIMORE, Md. (WMAR) — There's strength in numbers, but one question that could be added to the 2020 census could alter the count across the country by more than 6.5 million people.

The question: Are you a United States citizen?

The issue – millions of people not participating.

The US Supreme Court is considering adding the question for the first time since 1950.

CASA Executive Director Gustavo Torres called the question discriminatory.

The White House has maintained the citizenship question has been on some forms for decades, with the exception of 2010, and is crucial to reinforcing the federal voting rights law.

“The judge in New York when we sue this administration accepted our arguments,” said Torres. “Now the Trump Administration appealed in the Supreme Court. Today I was right over there as well.”

Every person counts; each person means around $1,800 a year in funding.

“Going to college in Baltimore, you’ll be here for a year, two, three year. You need to be counted in Baltimore,” Baltimore City Ex Officio Mayor Jack Young said. “I want the prison population to be counted, because you’re residing in the City of Baltimore.”

It's not just money – more people mean more of a voice.

“Our City Council districts, our legislative districts, our congressional districts, I can go on and on,” said U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings. “Without a proper count, we literately while we have eight members of Congress now we could lose a member.”

The city has developed maps to look at factors like vehicle ownership, internet access, and where they are in relation to basic city services.

Some are establishing grants for small businesses to throw census events.

“This is a safe operation. This data cannot be in any way used to track you down,” said Census 2020 Project Manager Austin Davis. “It doesn’t even become public for over 70 years. You have nothing to worry about from that.”

The Supreme Court Justices are expected to vote along party lines, meaning the citizenship question would likely be added.

The census is taken every 10 years. They will be distributed April 1, 2020 and for the first time can also be done online or over the phone.