Although a series of legal defeats forced President Trump to abandon his quest for a citizenship issue on the 2020 census, nearly a quarter of a million households continued to receive questionnaires asking the controversial issue: "Is this here? Person who is a citizen of the United States? "
The form, part of the Census Office's 2019 Census Test, was designed to measure the impact of a citizenship issue on the respondent survey. The Bureau announced the test in mid-June and began sending questionnaires shortly after – just two weeks before the Supreme Court stopped the administration's effort and said it had given a "motivated" reason to have requested the information.
But had a citizenship issue been included in the decade bill, the test form would have given the Bureau last minute information on how the public can respond to it. Instead, households across the country receive the form after a dizzying, week-long, legal and political return that saw Trump confuse with the courts before they finally stood.
"This is another example of how the president's Irish endeavor to add to the citizenship problem continues to cause confusion about the upcoming census," said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former staff head of the House Census Supervision Subcommittee. "The consequences are a long-standing confusion and a long-term climate of fear – especially in immigrant communities."
Bureau officials randomly gave approximately 480,000 households one of two versions of the test, one with the citizenship issue on it and one without. If, for example, fewer people responded to the version with the citizenship problem, the Bureau could have been prepared to hire more custodians to follow up the households in person.
On the Bureau's website, the test "supports the 2020 census target, which is to count all once, only once and in the right place." It will help "fine-tune" the planning for the real thing. And because the test is part of the preparations for the decade bill, the law requires the recipients to answer all their questions.
But now that the administration has fixed the proposed question, it is unclear what the federal government will do with the data it collects from this test. A spokesman for the spokeswoman did not respond to the request for comments on Monday evening.
It is this uncertainty that scares Robin Lyn Brown.
The Fort Lauderdale pensioner was among those chosen to receive a test form and she said it was shocked when she saw the last question, asked her if she was an American citizen.
"It just feels like a frightening tactic," Brown said, 68, in an interview. "It reminds me of" 1984. "Big Brother looks at and somewhere they put a database of the people who respond to this."
Brown questioned Trump's motivation to ask for citizenship status in the census, as the President's critics have said is a part of the efforts to systematically undercount Latinos and intimidate immigrants from participating in a survey that helps determine the congressional districts and the payment of certain federal funds.
"The first thing I thought was that President Trump had something to do with this," says Brown, who self-identifies himself as a democrat. "This administration is very fear-based."
Lowenthal said the Bureau could have waited for the former Supreme Court before sending out the forms, but officials refused to do so. But the test, which will run through August, is already being conducted historically late, she said.
"The simple fact that this big test is going on six months before the start of the billing period is unmatched," Lowenthal said. .
The estimated planning, as she said, is symptomatic of the administration's approach during the 19-month citizenship problem Saga, a pressure led by trade secretary Wilbur Ross.
"If the administration wanted to continue the addition of citizenship question above the board, the trade secretary would have made it known immediately when he took office to give the agency sufficient time for at least some testing," Lowenthal said. "Instead, the administration had something to hide and the trade secretary made the decision to add the question hidden from the public for a year. "
A puzzled public is the last thing the agency needs during the months leading up to the 2020 survey, she said. Nevertheless, Brown – and the thousands of test recipients as she – see the last question and make up her own: "When I see things like this I ask," What is the purpose? ""
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