Trump Administration Claims Sharing Census Information up for ‘Debate’

Census validity a concern

Seemingly in violation of federal law, the Trump administration claims that giving confidential information from the Census to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is open to debate.

The law requires that "personally identifiable information about an individual" gathered by the U.S. Census cannot be given to any other agency or individual for 72 years after it was collected.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) under Jeff Sessions disagreed with this law.

In an email included in a court filing in one of the current lawsuits against the inclusion of citizenship questions in the census, with J. Benjamin Aguiñaga, Chief of Staff and Counsel in the DOJ's Civil Rights Division saying, "I don't think we want to say too much... in case the issues addressed... come up later for renewed debate."

Aguiñaga was responding to a question from Rep. Jimmy Gomez's (D-CA) on if federal law would be followed with regard to census confidentiality. Concerns were raised that the administration could use the census question to allow ICE agents to locate undocumented immigrants for deportation.

President Donald Trump wanted a citizenship question added to the 2020 census. Given the current administrations push against immigrants and others, many would likely avoid being counted by the 2020 census.

A study by the Census Bureau itself found that a question on citizenship would act as a "major barrier" for the accuracy of the 2020 census. An inaccurate census that undercounted the Latin population of the United States would hurt places where Latin people are most likely to live.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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