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.