This year, much has been made about including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census form. The question shifts the focus away from ethnicity, and asks whether you were born in America, naturalized as a citizen, or are in the process of becoming a citizen. States are currently suing the federal government over the issue, and a case is pending before the Supreme Court this term. The Heritage Explains video series tackles the citizenship issue, explaining why conservatives are using the opportunity to stop government bureaucrats from dividing us.

The census determines how people are counted and classified for official purposes. As such the census data is often used to support race-based government policies and the promotion of identity politics. The census creates an opportunity for the federal government to divide people into new ethnic groups and promotes policies that grant benefits to one group of Americans over another. The Heritage Foundation opposes using race as a factor to create government policies.

Our leading census expert is Mike Gonzalez, a senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy. He has written extensively on identity politics, and his insightful research forms the basis of the Heritage Explains video. The video shows that the federal government has used the citizenship question in the census for decades. Equally important, Gonzalez’s research shows citizenship, rather than arbitrary questions of ethnicity, is what actually unites us.

As a Heritage member, you can be assured that we are cutting through the media clutter to explain the issues that matter right now. Our dedicated experts like Mike Gonzalez are working to keep liberals from dividing Americans on race. Heritage supports policies that unite Americans, and thanks to you, our research has an impact.

What other changes should be made to the census to encourage American values, and discourage identity politics?

Comments (14)

tomJwright - October 26, 2018

My opinion is you’re working on the most important change needed!

Steven Crain - October 26, 2018

1. Eliminate the “American Community Survey”.
2. Reinstate the “intent” of Article II, Section 2, Clause 3 which states: “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”
3. Ask the following of every household in America: “How many U.S. citizens live in this home?”
The “KISS” principle applies here.

Michele Bradtmueller - October 26, 2018

The first census of 1790 was to identify the number of free, tax paying citizens in order to determine the number of legislators/representatives necessary to adequately represent those citizens of the U.S. Later, it was used to determine the number of eligible men by age for conscription into the military. Today, it has grown into a tool whose data is used by not only our government, but other policymakers, sociologists, marketers, businesses, etc. Personally, I prefer less government involvement. I would not add anything more than what is required by our Constitution to see that we are adequately represented and the govt has the info necessary to correctly and fairly distribute funds for infrastructure, education, health care, and other political necessities.

Jake Huff - October 26, 2018

I agree completely. Race and ethnicity questions should be eliminated from the upcoming and all future census. I have taken to responding with the word “HUMAN” on any documents that ask me about my race. Skin color only matters to those who wish to divide and conquer. It is our shared humanity that unites us, and our shared citizenship that qualifies us for the protection of the US Constitution.

Human rights do not equate to rights of citizenship. If 10,000 US citizens tried to enter a foreign country they would be seen as an invading army and would be shot or arrested and sent back to their home nation. Anyone who tries to enter our country illegally is by definition, a criminal and should be treated as such, but in a humane manner befitting the human rights to which all of humanity should be entitled: ie., dignity and respect.

William Coates - October 26, 2018

Most of the questions are there to enable the government to interfere in things that are none of their constitutional business.
If putting the tax returns on a postcard is important, so is reducing the census to a postcard.

Henry Vance - October 26, 2018

There should be no African Americans, Asian Americans or Latin Americans – all our citizens should be recognized as Americans. Dividing our people by giving them separate group names is bad for our nation.

Bill King - October 26, 2018

Yes-United we stand-divided we fall.
Let’s restore our Republic and ” Hang it-celebrate it & Teach it” to restore ” that glorious Liberty document” to celebrate it’s birthday every SEPT 17 and teach Civic classes in our schools and the golden rule too. YES WE CAN restore civility in our schools and restore our Republic thru education and action to keep alive the AMERICAN Dream for ALL citizens of America…Education is the KEY to restore our Republic!

Ronald Benson - October 27, 2018

1. I endorse the KISS principle.
2. Use Post Office employees to conduct the census. They know the people in their distribution area, which would increase accuracy. Also, all the money spent on the census would help the Post Office’s financial situation, albeit temporary.

Lewis Sponagle - October 27, 2018

Eliminate all reference to race.
We are all God’s Children . . .
The Human Race.

Thomas Stark - October 27, 2018

Since much of the data being collected through the census is providing support for departments of the federal government that are totally unconstitutional (ex: Education, Energy, HHS, HUD, EPA, etc), anything to do with OTHER THAN counting CITIZENS should be eliminated. All of the rest of the data is providing fodder for those who would divide and destroy. “How many U.S. Citizens are in this household?” “How many non-citizens are in this household?” End of questions. It is more likely that you will get a higher participation rate which will make representation more accurate.

Pete Strand - October 27, 2018

My answer for last 3 census on race category question has been American! Skin color question was set up to devide us, not unite us. E Pluribus Unum! Citizenship question MUST be returned to the census!!

Sara Lavelle - October 27, 2018

This exchange of emphasis does draw us into a unity of national purpose and pride.

Al Wunsch - October 28, 2018

As mentioned in prior comments, the census should identify American citizens but since we know we have illegals about, it would be useful to know how many non citizens also exist. Eliminate rest of data – interesting but not necessary. We definitely should only count citizens for purposes of legislators/representatives and tax payer funding.

Tim Beck - October 29, 2018

The every-ten-year census should be eliminated. All of the (limited) information that the federal government needs to have on file is already disclosed on a person’s / family’s annual federal income tax return. Yes, this would require that every person within our country’s borders would be accounted for every year, including “green card” holders. If you aren’t in the annually updated database maintained by the IRS and Social Security Administration, someone should be asking the question “Why not?”.

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