While it still seems far off, it is important to know what exactly is going down with the 2020 census — because there are problematic and good elements.
There has been much research and debate on whether or not there should be a separate question asking if the respondent is Hispanic. This is separate from the race question.
According to Pew Research Center, during a test census that did combine the questions, “More than 70 percent of self-identified Hispanics said they were Hispanic [...] and less than 1 percent checked the ‘some other race’ box on the test census.”
Despite such positive results, the decision to not include the combined question feels pointed: that Hispanic people must have a race outside of their Hispanic heritage and ethnicity.
There is a lack of a question on Middle Eastern and Northern African descent. The same test survey from 2015 included the test question, but the official upcoming census will not have it.
As far back as 2014, advocates have asked for more accurate race questions when it comes to those of Middle Eastern and Northern African descent, because for those people, the only option currently is “white.”
The Pew Research Center wrote then, “The new category would be broader than the Arab ancestry data collected by the Census Bureau since 1980. […] The Census Bureau estimates there are 1.8 million Arab-Americans in the U.S., up 51 percent since 2000. But the Arab American Institute Foundation estimates there are nearly 3.7 million Arab Americans living in the country.”
But, this question will not be on the official census.
There is the issue that for most Arab-Americans in this country, they are not treated as if they are white. It becomes a double-edged sword — your identity can be erased on paper, but in life, you won’t be able to forget it.
One positive thing to come from the census, though, is the first ever question for same-sex couples. This is a positive change for those in same-sex relationships, but also a better way to collect data.
Right now, without the question, “the bureau produces a count of same-sex couples by using people’s answers to two questions – one about respondents’ sex and another about how each person in the household is related to the person who filled out the questionnaire.”
But this led to inaccuracies, as the Census Bureau found that the majority of same-sex married couples counted in the 2010 census and were recorded as opposite-sex couples in Social Security files.
The upcoming census has positives, but it also has a glaring issue.
The census is blatantly asking respondents if they are citizens. This is the first time since 1950 that this question has found its way into the census, which is quite telling. There has already been a lawsuit filed against the question.
The Department of Justice says it’s just to collect data, but the administration has been firm in its xenophobic anti-immigration stance.
Should we believe them or not?