As a retired Salt Lake City urban planner, I applaud Judge Jesse Furman’s decision blocking the Trump administration’s attempt to include a question about citizenship status on the 2020 census questionnaire.
I served as the city’s census liaison for the 1980, 1990 and 2000 censuses. The citizenship question would have a dampening effect on a comprehensive response to the census. It is hard enough to have some minority groups answer the census at all.
Irrespective of one’s citizenship status, the census is used to measure how many people need to be served by various government and commercial agencies. Census data are used to determine congressional districts, assist local governments to delineate council districts, allow municipalities to apply for federal and state funding, among many other activities.
One of the hardest tasks of the Census Bureau is to convince people that census data remain absolutely confidential and are not shared with any other agency. Accurate counts, especially at the local level, are crucial to provide municipalities and utilities with data to determine consumer needs for planning, transit, water, sewer and health issues.
The census is an important tool, enshrined in the Constitution (Article. 1, Sec. 2). Congress and the executive branch should not ever interfere with its intended purpose.
Neil H. Olsen, Holladay