WeHo City Opposes Citizenship Question to 2020 U.S. Census

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West Hollywood City Hall - Photo by Paulo Murillo

The City of West Hollywood joined 14 states and more than 160 cities and mayors across the country in their opposition to the addition of a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, announced he would add the question to the Census. Final questions are due to Congress on April 1, 2018.

The Constitution of the United States mandates that a complete population count be conducted every 10 years. The current legislation requires the Census Bureau to count every person living in the United States, independent of their immigration or citizenship status. The U.S. Census is a large and logistically complex undertaking. The decennial census provides the critical data the City of West Hollywood needs to keep the city running effectively and ensure that West Hollywood receives a fair share of federal funding and investments.

“States such as California, which have sizable populations of immigrants, stand to lose important federal resources if we don’t work hard to count everyone, regardless of immigration status,” West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman said in a city press release. “The Trump Administration is playing politics with people’s lives. If immigration status is added to the U.S. Census, then people who fear that their immigration status could be used against them simply won’t take part in the census. The result will be an inaccurate count and the loss of countless dollars in federal funding, as well as an inaccurate apportionment of electoral districts and representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. We can’t let this stand; there’s too much at stake.”

The United States Conference of Mayors says that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census will be damaging for several reasons:

It will undermine a fair and accurate census count because immigrant communities will feel less safe in participating. There is fear amongst immigrant communities that their privacy will be violated and this information will be used by the government to harm them and their families. The constitution requires a count of all people living in the United States, regardless of citizenship or legal status.
Logistics — The Census Bureau is not prepared to add any new questions as doing so requires years of testing alternative questionnaires and their formats and designs. Changes to the form this late in the process would jeopardize the operational tests that have already been done.

The 2020 U.S. Census Operational Plan bases staffing levels on projected self-response rates. Adding a question on citizenship will lower initial response, leading to an expanded Nonresponse Follow-up operation, thereby increasing the cost of the census considerably without improving accuracy.

In August 2017, the City of West Hollywood signed on to the Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate. The initiative is led by the Anti-Defamation League and The United States Conference of Mayors and is aimed at fighting extremism and bigotry, and promoting the fundamental principles of justice and equality that define the United States of America.

In December 2016, the City Council of the City of West Hollywood affirmed its commitment as a Sanctuary City and reaffirmed its commitment to its core values, which includes Respect and Support for People. West Hollywood is a safe space, regardless of nationality or immigration status, and the City has a commitment to promoting social justice and equal rights. The City works diligently to defend the fundamental rights of its community members including LGBT people, people with disabilities, seniors, people of color, immigrants, women, and others. The City monitors federal proposals and responds to policy changes that may have a harmful effect on West Hollywood’s residents.

For additional information about the Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate, please visit www.mayorscompact.org. For additional information and details about the City of West Hollywood’s Legislative Affairs efforts, please visit weho.org/wehoresponds.

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