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Citizenship question to return to 2020 Census

The United States has been utilizing a periodic gathering of information about its people known as the census for over 200 years now. Every 10 years, census takers travel to ask questions about the people residing in the U.S. Soon, individuals in New York may notice that a question about citizenship has been added to the normal roster of questions. Although some object to the question being added, there has been a history of its inclusion in the Census.

One expert has determined 1820 to be the first time individuals were asked about citizenship on the U.S. Census. That year was the fourth U.S. Census on record, and the question was if there were any foreigners not naturalized in the household and, if so, how many. The expert said that she was not able to determine what the data was used for, and that the question was eventually dropped. 

The question reappeared again in 1890, as a way to check in to see how foreigners were doing. In the post-war boom era, the question was dropped as census takers sought more information about consumer goods and crowded out the issue. Today, the current administration has authorized a question about citizenship to be included in the upcoming census. 

The Justice Department says that the data collected will help it better enforce laws like the Voting Rights Act. Critics say that some individuals may now avoid the Census out of fear. One thing is sure, the citizenship question has long been a part of the American Census. Any person in New York who has concerns about the census question, and how it could possibly affect his or her status in the United States, may want to consult with someone about it. An experienced immigration law attorney can help. 

Source: NPR, "The Complicated History Of The U.S. Census Asking About Citizenship : NPR", Hansi Lo Wang, May 17, 2018

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