PHP Joins Philanthropic Peers in Opposing New Citizenship Question on 2020 Census

Impact of a Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census

On behalf of the Philadelphia Health Partnership, Executive Director Ann Marie Healy joined 118 other grantmakers in signing a letter urging Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross not to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The letter highlights concerns that adding such a question – particularly without having conducted rigorous testing of its potential impact—could discourage census participation by foreign-born residents, with serious consequences for federal funding and political representation of immigrant communities.

The United States government is constitutionally obligated to produce a decennial census, which is used to inform the allocation of approximately $700 billion in federal funds annually to state and local governments for Medicaid and other health programs, education, housing, transportation, public safety, and much more. That funding is determined based on data about population demographics, including educational attainment, income, race and ethnicity, and family composition among other factors. Census findings are also used to determine the re-distribution of political representation based on changes in population.  For practitioners and resource brokers, the Census provides critical data that informs policy- and program- relevant research and decision-making.  When a group or population is undercounted in the Census, our ability to develop effective care and services is threatened.

At PHP, we are committed to advancing health equity, including reducing health disparities based on national origin. Immigrants have historically been undercounted on the Census for many reasons, from differences in language to varied levels of trust in government.  Adding a citizenship question on the 2020 Census at a time when immigrants are experiencing increased fear of sharing information with government could further reduce participation and threaten a fair and accurate count.  We are proud to join our peers in the philanthropic community in opposing this measure. To read our letter to Secretary Ross and learn more about this issue, click here.

Additional Resources for a Fair and Accurate 2020 Census

  1. Keystone Counts is a nonpartisan coalition of advocacy groups, service providers, and community organizations in Pennsylvania working together to build an education and outreach effort for a fair and accurate 2020 Census. Click here to learn more.
  2. Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) is a membership network for the philanthropic community. GCIR offers a resource page with links to infographics, analyses,  and other information relevant to to their Census 2020 initiative. Click here to learn more.
  3. Funders’ Committee For Civic Participation’s Funders Census Initiative works to build strong support within philanthropy for ensuring a fair and accurate decennial census count in 2020. Click here to learn more.