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2020 U.S. Census will not include citizenship question, in line with 70 years of survey history

The main questionnaire, collected every 10 years, hasn't asked about citizenship status since 1950

NORFOLK, Va. — President Donald Trump is backing down from his plan to add a citizenship question to next year's census, in line with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling and the past 70 years of census questionnaires.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the Trump administration's reasoning to add the question was "contrived." President Trump now issued an executive order to combine different government databases to track non-citizens in the country. 

A 13News Now viewer asked the Verify team if President Obama's administration removed the question in 2010. That is false. Census archives show that citizenship hasn't been surveyed on the primary questionnaire since 1950.

However, there is a supplemental survey from the Census Bureau called the American Community Survey that does ask about citizenship status. Since 2005, it has included a citizenship question, but it's only sent to less than three percent of households each year.

Census data is used to allocate billions of dollars in federal money and redraw voting districts, making it very important to local governments.

"You're talking millions of dollars that come back directly to Norfolk to be able to do anything from roads, schools, grants to local organizations," Norfolk City Councilman Tommy Smigiel said. 

Smigiel chairs a Census 2020 committee focused on ensuring all Norfolk citizens respond to the survey next year

"One of our goals is to make sure the citizens trust this process, so you need to know that the census is confidential."

He said Norfolk is committed to encouraging all citizens to respond to the upcoming census, despite any national controversy and legal dispute. Smigiel said if more citizens respond to the Census, Norfolk could receive more federal money and the need to raise taxes in the future would be diminished.

President Trump's new executive order to combine government databases says citizenship data is needed to gather information about immigration policy. In court, his administration had argued that it was needed for voting rights enforcement. 

The Census will be collected on April 1, 2020 and you can respond online, by phone or through a paper survey.

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