Editorial: Everyone counts in census
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, 17 other attorneys general, six mayors including Pittsburgh’s Bill Peduto and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have won a federal court battle.
They argued against a Trump administration directive to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
The decision? The census means counting everybody, and asking about citizenship information would keep people from participating. The judge said it was “unlawful for a multitude of independent reasons and … must be set aside.”
Maybe you think that is great for hippy-dippy, liberal, bleeding heart reasons. Maybe you’re right.
Maybe as a conservative you think there’s no reason to not know if the people who are being counted could (or should) vote or not, like the U.S. Department of Justice. Maybe you’re not wrong about that on a national level.
But on a Pennsylvanian level, there’s a very good reason to keep the question off the form. Math.
The 18 attorneys general argued that citizenship questions in the census could lead to fewer people participating in the census, a constitutionally mandated every-10-years count of “the whole number of persons in each state.” Not voters. Not citizens. Not Democrats or Republicans or Steelers fans. Just all of the people.
In a census set to happen at the end of Trump’s first term, the attorneys general and mayors believe asking about citizenship could make immigrant populations reluctant to participate, leading to fewer people being counted and skewed numbers.
That’s not good for Pennsylvania. The state has already lost a U.S. representative here and there in recent years because the commonwealth’s population is not growing at the same rate as other states. It’s projected to lose another of the 18-member congressional delegation in 2020.
According to the American Immigration Council, in 2015, there were 837,159 foreign-born individuals living in Pennsylvania, about half of whom were naturalized citizens. In 2016, another 911,353 U.S.-born individuals had at least one immigrant parent. Together that’s more than 1.7 million people, or 14 percent of the population. In Pittsburgh, census data shows 8.6 percent of the population is foreign-born.
Now imagine they don’t get counted in the census.
That 1.7 million people is about two and a half Congressmen. That translates to electoral votes. It translates to money that comes into Pennsylvania for 132 federal programs that are apportioned through the census.
It comes down to Pennsylvania getting its due, whether in funding or representation or voice in the presidential election. No matter where these people come from, they live here, and making them less likely to be counted hurts us all.