NewsFact Check


FACT CHECK: Is a question about citizenship standard on U.S. Census forms?

Posted at 6:34 PM, Mar 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-30 13:15:55-04

You’ve probably heard about the controversy over the proposed census question.

The Trump administration wants the 2020 questionnaire to ask whether residents are U.S. citizens.

The administration says it’s a standard question, but some media outlets are challenging that, saying the census hasn’t asked that question since 1950.

So, fact or fiction: Has the census not asked about citizenship for decades?

The answer is: Fiction, and it comes down to this.

The forms, which track information on U.S. population, come out every ten years and they’ve changed over time.

The last time the Census Bureau asked all U.S. households about citizenship was in 1950.

From 1970 to 2000, the bureau sent households one of two questionnaires, a long version and a short one.

Most households received the short form, which didn’t ask about citizenship.

About 15 percent of households got the long form, which did ask.

Now, the Trump administration wants all forms to ask about citizenship.

Some people say that makes sense, but states like California and New York, which have large populations of illegal immigrants, oppose it because their population numbers determine the number of representatives they have in congress.

Those population numbers also determine how billions of your federal tax dollars are distributed.