Controversial 2020 Census Question Could Impact Idaho Responses

Mar 30, 2018

Much has changed since the nation's fifteenth census in 1930. Gone are the handwritten ledgers and much of the door-to-door collection of family data. Concerns are spreading about a question on the upcoming 2020 census regarding citizenship.
Credit guayacan_verde / Flickr

A question regarding citizenship has already embroiled the 2020 census in controversy. As California sues the federal government over the words, some in Idaho worry the question will leave out a portion of Gem State residents.

Official word came down this week that the question: “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” would be included on the 2020 census.

Margie Gonzalez, the executive director of the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, says the question will only add to suspicions many communities harbor.

“I think there’s already a trust issue between government—and I’m not just speaking with the Hispanic population, I’m speaking in general,” Gonzalez says. “I think there’s already a trust issue and this is only going to make matters worse.”

Gonzalez says Idaho did a poor job of reaching out to Hispanics and other minorities in the 2000 census. By 2010, she says, things went much better and more people were counted.

As for the upcoming 2020 census, Gonzalez expects many people will be offended by the citizenship question.

“I can very honestly say that I think that people are not going to respond,” she says. “People are not going to respond to the entire questionnaire, not just to that question.”

Gonzalez says she’d like the Commission on Hispanic Affairs to host a roundtable discussion with other community leaders about the census question. Raising the issue with Idaho’s next governor ahead of the 2020 census is also something she's considering.

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