The Justice Department is advocating for the inclusion of a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census, according to a report.
The DOJ made the argument to add the inquiry to improve citizenship data and better enforce the Voting Rights Act in a Dec. 12 letter obtained by ProPublica to the Census Bureau, which is part of the Commerce Department.
“To fully enforce those requirements, the Department needs a reliable calculation of the citizen voting-age population in localities where voting rights violations are alleged or suspected,” the note reads, referring to DOJ.
Citizenship has not been probed through a census since the early 19th century, per the news outlet.
Instead, similar information has been gathered from different questionnaires because the goal of the once-in-a-decade survey has been to count every person in the country regardless of immigration status.
A Census Bureau spokesperson confirmed to ProPublica that the agency had received the communique and that the “request will go through the well-established process that any potential question would go through” before a draft of the census is submitted to Congress for review by April 2018.
Neither the DOJ nor the White House responded to the Washington Examiner's request for comment.
Census data is used to determine important public policy decisions, such as the disbursement of taxpayer dollars for federal programs and projects, as well as how congressional districts are drawn.