Assemblymember Aravella Simotas Urges U.S. Commerce Department to Reject the Push to Add a Citizenship Status Question to the Upcoming 2020 Census

March 27, 2018

Assemblymember Aravella Simotas urged the Commerce Department to reject any attempt to add a question concerning citizenship status to the 2020 Census. She wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Jr. on March 23, at the request of Queens Congressional Representatives Grace Meng and Carolyn Maloney and said in her letter, “I am deeply concerned that a citizenship question would deter many of my constituents from participating in the census.” In her letter to Secretary Ross, Simotas noted that Queens is home to a large population of immigrants and with heightened fears of deportations and anxiety about the confidentiality of government data, inclusion of a citizenship status question would most likely deter people from participating in the Census. Lack of participation would result in an undercount and unfair federal funding and elected representation based on that undercount. “It is critical that the 2020 Decennial Census captures accurate data so our communities can be fairly represented and federal funding can be properly allocated…The long-term effects of an undercount would be devastating for families in my community and throughout New York, and I strongly urge you to reject requests to add a citizenship question that would cause depressed and inaccurate responses,” Simotas said in her letter to Secretary Ross, who has until April 1 to submit final proposed census questions to Congress.