Rep. Jim Jordan: I Don’t Know Why Democrats Don’t Want to Know How Many Citizens Are in the U.S.

Melanie Arter | March 15, 2019 | 7:51pm EDT
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Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) (Screenshot)

( - Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, said Thursday that he didn’t know why Democrats aren’t interested in finding out how many U.S. citizens live in the country, and he accused them of politicizing the 2020 Census.

“I do not know why the Democrats don’t want to know how many citizens are in the United States of America, but for some reason, they’re focused on this question. Maybe it’s politics. It seems clear to me we are having this hearing today for that reason. The majority insists on politicizing the 2020 Census,” Jordan said in his opening statement.


He then read the citizenship question that Democrats are opposed to including on the upcoming Census as well as the potential answers to the question.

“Before we get too far into this sideshow, I want it on the record what the citizenship question actually asks. It says this: Is this person a citizen of the United States? The answers you can choose from are the following: Yes, born in the United States. Yes, born in Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands. Yes, born abroad of a U.S. citizen parent or parents. Yes, a U.S. citizen by naturalization. Or no, not a U.S. citizen. That’s it,” Jordan said.


The congressman noted that the Census doesn’t even include a follow-up question on whether the respondent is living in the country illegally.

“The question doesn’t even ask the next logical question. If you’re not a citizen, are you in this country illegally?” Jordan said.

“While I strongly support asking if a person is in this country legally, I am satisfied the public policy goal of enforcing the Voting Rights Act can be accomplished with just the citizenship question,” he said.

Jordan pointed out that not only is the citizenship question not new, it also appeared - without objection - in the American Community survey, which “helps local officials, community leaders, and businesses understand the changes taking place in their communities” and is considered “the premier source for detailed population and housing information about our nation,” according to the Census website.

“I’d like to remind my colleagues the citizenship question is not new. It has appeared on previous decennial Census questionnaires and is asked on the American Community survey every single year. The majority apparently does not object to the American Community survey asking a citizenship question, so I don’t understand the majority’s objection to the question now,” he said.

“It is the exact same question on both forms. My colleagues complain the question hasn’t been tested, because it was out at the last minute. This argument’s simply false. The question has already gone through rigorous testing over more than a dozen years as it has appeared on the American Community survey. In fact, the American Community survey required more rigorous testing for this question than the question would have received in 2018 Census tests,” Jordan said.

“The American Community survey is sent to 3 million households annually, while the 2018 Census test in Providence, Rhode Island, was only tested on 600,000 people one time. If you’re doing the math, in the past 10 years, the citizenship question has already been answered by 30 million households, but wait, there’s more,” he said.

Jordan said the Census Bureau agreed to test out the citizenship question in 2019 to address the Democrats’ objections, so they can’t say the citizenship question is untested. What’s more, he said, Democrats’ complaints have made people more distrustful of the Census.

“We all know one of the biggest threats to the Census is lack of a trust in government. Today, people don’t trust government and don’t want to voluntarily provide private information. Therefore, people are less likely to fill out the 2020 Census than they were 10 years ago for the 2010 Census. The majority’s drumbeat against a legitimate question on a person’s citizenship status only compounds the problem,” he said.

“If self-response for the 2020 Census declines, it will be due to the majority’s spreading of misinformation. Instead of scaring people out of completing their Census form, let’s work together to collect the data the Department of Justice says is needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act,” Jordan said.

“The purpose of the data collected by the citizenship question is after all is to ensure everyone’s vote is counted fairly and no one suffers discrimination at the ballot box. Surely, the majority does not object to a robust enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Til last year, I would have assumed any data collected to assist in this would have been welcomed by my colleagues. I guess I was wrong,” he said.

Instead of hearings about the citizenship question, the congressman said the committee should be holding hearings on the “2020 Census use of its IT systems and cyber security preparations.”

“After all, this will be the first time households can respond to the Census questionnaire online,” he said.


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