Giles, other mayors blast plan to ask citizenship status on 2020 Census

Leadership Conference CEO Vanita Gupta, left, with census expert Terri Ann Lowenthal. Gupta said her organization is already hearing from people who plan to boycott the 2020 Census over the citizenship question. (Photo by Alyssa Klink/Cronkite News)

By Keerthi Vedantam

WASHINGTON – Mesa Mayor John Giles derided the Trump administration’s plan to ask people their citizenship status on the 2020 census, calling it a “just stupid” move that could cost local governments federal funding and congressional representation.

Giles was part of a U.S. Conference of Mayors panel Thursday on the 2020 Census that considered whether the citizenship question would have a “chilling effect,” leading to an undercount of all citizens and underrepresentation of key demographics.

“That’s going to have everyday impact in thousands of ways because this is the baseline we use for all kinds of government data for the next 10 years,” Giles said. “It’s critical to Mesa, it’s critical to Arizona that we have a very accurate census account.”

The citizenship question has not been asked for decades. The Justice Department in 2017 requested that it be included on the 2020 census to collect data that would help enforce the Voting Rights Act.

The Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, last year agreed to include the question. In a memo announcing the decision, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross acknowledged concerns that the question might result in low participation, but said any reduction in response would be outweighed by the value of the data gained.

Opponents of the move say they are already fielding concerns, more than a year before the Census is set to be taken.

“People are coming to us, and they’re probably coming to the mayors as well, saying, ‘We don’t want to answer the census. We’re going to boycott it,’” said Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference, who was at the mayors’ meeting.

A supporter of the move calls that “an absolute ridiculous claim.”

Leadership Conference CEO Vanita Gupta, left, with census expert Terri Ann Lowenthal. Gupta said her organization is already hearing from people who plan to boycott the 2020 Census over the citizenship question. (Photo by Alyssa Klink/Cronkite News)

“Somehow we are supposed to believe … that a question on an anonymous form is somehow going to scare people from responding to the census form. It’s absolutely absurd,” said Ira Mehlman, media director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for tougher immigration laws.

Mehlman called the furor over the question “whipped-up hysteria by advocacy groups.”

Giles, a Republican, disagreed.

“The idea of adding a citizenship question to the census is just stupid,” he said. “It’s going to have a chilling effect. It’s going to result in people being intimidated by the census.”

A federal court last week agreed, ruling Ross’ decision to include the citizenship question “ignored, cherry-picked or badly misconstrued the evidence” of the impact the question could have and that he “violated the public trust.”

The Justice Department said Tuesday that it will ask the Supreme Court to review the district court’s ruling on an expedited basis, since the decennial census is fast approaching.

The data collected in 2020 will impact 2021 congressional and legislative redistricting in Arizona, affecting the number of seats the state has in Congress and the number of representative that cities and counties have in the State House. Federal officials will the same data to determine the distribution of federal funding and to sort through grant applications from cities for programs and infrastructure.

“It’s all based on data. So if you have bad data, or data that understates who you are, that’s going to come back to you in smaller allocations,” Giles said. “Particularly for cities like Mesa, which are very fast-growing, this has a tremendous impact.”

Mesa had 496,401 residents in 2017, the latest year for which Census Bureau estimates are available, up by 57,360 from the population recorded in the 2010 census. That moved the fast-growing city from 38th- to 36th-largest in the country between 2014 and 2017.

Arizona has continued its steady population growth, tying Florida in 2017 for fastest-growing state from the year before. Arizona’s booming population has seen its number of House members grow from just three in the 1960s to nine today, with many expecting the state to add a 10th congressional district after the coming census.

“The citizenship question isn’t just a decennial headcount, it’s a snapshot of the country at any given point in time,” Mehlman said. “There’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t collect some hard data on the number of non-citizens who are living in the country.”

But for Giles, the census is too important for Mesa’s growth to risk underrepresentation.

“The point of the census is not to use it as a political tool to accomplish political means,” Giles said. “We’re going to have to live for the next 10 years with these numbers.”

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  1. The Mormon church has been courting the illegals just as much as the Democrats for decades. Giles is a good little Mormon boy whose religion comes first. He will protect illegals not because of politics, but because it’s the directive of his religious leaders. He’s also been a pretty lousy mayor for Mesa just like he was an attorney. No personality and no concern for the non-Smith’s.

    • Giles constantly says he’s “nonpartisan”, a conservative Mesa Mormon Republican. He’s not looking to protect what you call illegals, he just wants them counted for federal funding no matter what he says. Hard to believe that an ‘ambulance-chaser’ / personal injury/law accident attorney will ever have the leadership skills Mesa really needs. He obeys higher-ups in the LDS power structure. No doubt a good servant to special interests

  2. Presumably the authors of the constitution which requires the census did not give much, if any, thought to whether illegal immigrants should be counted. The main purpose of the census was to determine the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives. It seems Clear that illegal Immigrant advocates do not want anonymous respondents to answer the citizenship question for the simple reason that they do not wish the American people to know the true number of illegal immigrants residing in the U S. Lacking this information it is impossible to estimate the true cost to taxpayers of illegal immigrants using government services and knowing the true number of illegals could influence what we decide to do about a long term solution to the problem of how to treat the illegal immigrants living in our country.

  3. There was a bumper sticker on a car yesterday said MEDISCARE for all americans! You do realize even mexicans, canadians etc are americans even though they dislike to told that. Yes they are north americans, mexican americans and south americans so that bumper sticker can be interpreted to say many things. A Proper sticker would indicate mediscare for US CITIZENS.

    Then there are the albert types who cant let a story go. Where was he when the LEGAL immigrants were suffering the same things in the east yet not a peep. The poles, irish, etc all suffered the same and worked in conditions that were terrible even up into the 40’s. Yet the politically correct union bosses only worried about getting themselves enriched by claiming they cared about the workers! Sure they did.

    These mayors/political types are only interested in the $$, they could give a rats ass less about the people who would be lost in the count. If they are so concerned since many political jobs are supposed to be for the benefit of the community, maybe, just maybe they should NOT ACCEPT any payments for the position, then the $$ can be directed to the ‘needy’.

  4. This Mayor and those who oppose the citizenship question should consider those who may boycott the census if it does not include a citizenship question. Excluding such pertinent and critical data is chilling and intimidating.

  5. Given the current politically polarized climate, including the mistaken deportation of citizens and calls to end birthright citizenship (how un-American is that?) a legal non-citizen could rightly fear that answering that question might put them in harm’s way. Especially in Arizona, where 1200 striking Copper Queen miners were rounded up at gunpoint and “deported” via cattle cars into the New Mexico desert in July, 1917. Native-born Americans along with Mexican and European non-citizens were dumped, and families have long memories.

    BTW, Evil One, non-citizens can’t vote, and what are your sources for the numbers you claim?

    • If a citizen is deported by mistake or by a government employee based on that employee`s malice the place to redress the wrong is the courts. There is nothing in the constitution as amended establishing “birthright” citizenship except for former slaves. If there were, American Indians born and living off the reservation would not have needed a subsequent law to grant citizenship to them. So, the answer to the question of how un-American is it to end “birthright’ citizenship, the answer is, it is not at all un-American because it is not authorized by the laws of the U S to begin with.

    • The Census also determines how many Electoral Votes each state gets.

      BTW, Albert, neither can dead people, but they keep voting for Democrats

      • I did update my thought process, with some basic math: The story says that 58,000 non-citizens voted since 1996. Assuming an election every two years, that’s 11 elections, or 5,272 illegal votes per election. There are 12,752,417 voters in Texas. Do the math: That means that .0004% of the votes were illegal. Not right, and they should be caught and prosecuted, but the numbers don’t seem worth getting your knickers in a twist about. I suspect there at least that many human screw-ups in any election. And we have no way of knowing if those illegally registered are Dimocrats or Republikooks, do we?

        • What is that word you liberals keep screaming when somebody mentions strengthening our voting process? Oh yeah. DISENFRANCHISEMENT!!!!!! Every Illegal that votes disenfranchises an actual US Citizen. And now you want to allow Illegal Aliens to determine our Legislative Districts and in turn our Electoral College? Talk about DISENFRANCHISEMENT to the MAX.

        • Hey Standman — that’s the same story I already deconstructed for you. And Evil One, so you want to keep all non-citizens from being counted? Not all non-citizens are illegals, not by a lot. So maybe it would be better to go back to the original way of determining representation — which excluded most African Americans, most Indians, and 3/5 of “all other Persons” who were not “free Persons?” And oh yeah, women couldn’t vote. And Hank, sorry, but you are wrong once again. I’m happy to debate ideas and facts, but not Fake News and fact-free rants.

        • albert let me know what I and others are wrong about. Leftist rants about people being wrong never provide the issues they are wrong about. You guys just rant and rave yet NEVER ever really produce anything to ‘deconstruct; anything. Like your use of 58000 over a period of time, but you dont really say where that came from. This article did not say anything about illegals voting. You just change words, declare them as facts and then stand there with crap on your face when called out on it. So get a grip and realize the left is totally out of step with the real america and just cant stand being thus.

  6. How will asking a U.S. citizen, “Are you a citizen of the United States?” intimidate a U.S. citizen? It might intimidate a non-citizen who has entered the United States illegally. It should not intimidate a non-citizen who has entered the United States legally.

  7. The Census is Power. And the Democrats want Power at all costs. Illegals not only give Democrats votes, but with the Census, it will give them Legislative Districts.

    With the actual population of Illegal Aliens living on US soil being around 45 million to 50 million people, its a HUGE balance of Power.

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