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November 4th, 2009
06:00 AM ET

Should 2010 census ask, 'Are you a US citizen?'

By Carol Costello and Bob Ruff

Ten. That’s the number of questions you’ll be asked when the 2010 census forms arrive in mail boxes starting next April.

Question 1: “How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010?”

From there, questions 2 through 10 range from a person’s sex and race to phone number.

But nowhere is this question asked: “Are you a U.S. citizen?”

Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and others are asking, why not? Vitter is pushing an amendment to a Senate spending bill that would put the citizenship question on the next census form. The Bureau of the Census hasn’t asked that question before. So, why now?

Senator Vitter told Carol Costello that it’s all about apportionment, which is the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives based on the number of people counted in each state by the census. It’s right there in Article I of the U.S. Constitution.

“…Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years…”

For Senator Vitter, who represents Louisiana in the U.S. Senate, this is personal. “If all people,” the senator says, “including non-citizens, including illegals, go into the process of reapportionment, Louisiana will lose one House seat.”

One challenge for Senator Vitter and his supporters is that the Constitution goes onto say, in Article 14, that the government must “…count(ing) the whole number of persons in each state….”

“It’s certainly an open legal issue what the constitution requires,” Senator Vitter says, “…whether it takes a statute to change it or a constitutional amendment, we’ll deal with that legality later. But…shouldn’t it be a consensus that reapportionment should count citizens and should not factor in non citizens?”

And then, at least for the 2010 census, there would be the matter of the logistics and cost of reprinting millions of census forms.

Robert Groves, the Director the U.S. Census Bureau, says it could cost in the “hundreds of millions of dollars” to add that single question about citizenship. Groves also says that he has deadline dates to meet, including the April 1 mailing of the forms. “We can’t meet that deadline with a change to the questionnaire.”

Senator Vitter says it’s “ironic” that the census is talking about cost when it’s spending much more to conduct the 2010 census that the previous one. “They’re being given a huge amount of money already…so I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we do it right…”

Some Democratic lawmakers say Vitter’s effort is immoral and could result in an undercount of minorities. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) said “we cannot allow lawmakers to use divisive tactics to scare people into not participating in the 2010 census.”

Director Groves isn’t surprised by all this controversy. “Every time a census is done after a big wave of immigration, issues like those we are talking about happen…my job is to do a non-partisan, professional, scientific census in whatever environment we’re dealt, and that’s been true for decades.”

As for who’s responsible for census questions, as well as the constitutionality of any of them, Director Groves says the Constitution directs Congress to conduct the census. Congress, he says, has the final call on including or excluding questions such as citizenship. “If you read the Constitution it specifies that Congress by law should direct how the census is done. It is their proper role to discuss these things. In 2007 according to regulations that we submitted to Congress, the topics that would be included in the questionnaire, citizenship was not included in the questionnaire.”

Filed under: Controversy
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. Angeline

    "Yes", the question are you a US citizen should be on the census, These state's shouldn't be able to count those people here in this country illegally. My idea would be for these states to do more to deport those people, and not thrive more than other state just because they can't handle their illegal immigrants. Leaving us the tax payer and our great country to foot the bill, from my understanding this country already has such a large deficit. The cost of reprinting is just a fraction of what we would be out on the illegal's

    November 4, 2009 at 8:37 am |
  2. Mike

    Yes, the question should be on the Census form. From this count, non-citizens should not be used in calculations toward selecting the number of Representatives from the area. Only US citizens should be counted for this. Non-citizens should not be allowed to skew results! In this scenario everyone would be counted, fulfilling the Constitutional law, but not favoring states with large populations of illegal immigrants or legal immigrants with pending citizenship.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  3. Duane English

    What a ridiculous and expensive idea!. Our country is spending billions of dollars every day, so let's just spend another billion to reprint some more paperwork.

    Even if the forms are reprinted, who in their right mind would believe that illegal aliens would answer the question truthfully.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:35 am |
  4. Jim Miller

    I’m really dumbfounded. Why would we adjust, or alter the representative count based on the number of illegal immigrants. I suppose we will also change the constitution to allow an illegal immigrant to be appointed to the house, to represent their illegal constituents .

    I would hope the necessary changes would be made to the census form. I realize there is a cost in dollars but is a necessity to insure that True American Citizens are represented.. Think of the dollars spent as equal in dollars to duck crossings, or 20 minutes of subsidy to AIG. I believe my true representation is more important!!!

    November 4, 2009 at 8:33 am |
  5. B. Powell

    When are we going to abide by our constitution? Illegals are not to be in our country and therefore should NOT be counted. Our government needs to crack down on them and send them back to their own country. Why are we so afraid to up-hold our laws? Our population has gone out of control and illegals should not be here in the first place.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:33 am |
  6. Brandon T

    This is a silly question to ask. The Senator wants us to believe that he is for the citizens of Louisiana and that he is doing them a service by thinking first that the reason that his state will lose one House seat b/c of non-citizens, when he is losing them b/c of Hurricane Katrina and the recession. The hardest hit states during tough economic times are states that have high ag industry... this includes most of the South. Second the Senator is missing a key point. The founding fathers used the phrase "WHOLE PERSON" because they were counting black slaves as partial people, the 3/5th's clause of the Article in question. They counted African American slaves but they were not concidered citizens. Even if they lived in the North and were free they still were not concidered citizens. Lastly nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about needing to know all the other information that the Census asks. I believe that these Senators and Reps. mean well but they need to get their facts stright.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:30 am |
  7. Mitt

    No, because a population is the number of people( not citizen) that live in a region. Go back to school or do a geography class before hating others because of their national origin. Stop the hate people with all this citizenship mess.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:29 am |
  8. royp

    Send out both forms – with the citizen question and without. I believe, by comparing both we will get a more accurate demographic picture.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:28 am |
  9. Susan Peck

    I would like to know what makes Senator David Vitter think they would tell the truth anyway. There is a reason that someone is in the U.S. ilegally ! So why waste anymore of tax payers money? Can put that money towards something useful.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:28 am |
  10. laquetta

    we have to also take into consideration the stall tactic of Republican. they are trying to slow down everything related to this administration. the census is not Obama's idea, it has been in effect long b/4 i was even born..... Everybody should wake up and smell the tea. Republicans are stalling on everything from health care reform, (which they all proclaim to really want). they dont give a care about reform because they are selfish souls floating around in Washington pretending to be for the people. they stall about obvious winnable arguments, such as extending unemployment benefits, every time it comes to the floor, (see how much they care about you personally). they are jealous vicious souls whose only agenda is a personal one. if the people meant anything to any of them, they would not be trying to look at who might or might not vote for them next time, because that would not matter, their job is to serve the people and not look at it as if it cant get them votes or more lobbying money (which i feel are bribes and should be looked at), then they are not for it. Wake up people, another stall tactic. if the question makes sense, then put it in the next census. why reprint at the expense of taxpayers? if it is so meaningful all of a sudden then Mr Wise Senator Man, pose it now for next census along with the Birth Certificate all of a sudden presentation.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:27 am |
  11. Johnny in PA

    "why do liberals make this so hard. If they just went through the Socal Security data bank...."

    Ha ha. It's not about making it hard or easy... it's about being shady so they can sneak stuff past American citizens.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:27 am |
  12. Brenda Morgan

    The Census will be used to determine the districts in the states, ie how many representatives each state will have in Washington, right? Why should people who are temporarily in the country, whether legal or illegal (unless they have applied for citizenship) have any say about how many representatives from their state should go to Washington to run this nation. I dare say there are not many countries in this world that I could go to for a "visit" and be allowed to sway how their government representatives would be selected. Incredible that this should even be an issue. When did we decided that our country could and should be run in part by decisions made by people who are visiting our nation?

    November 4, 2009 at 8:25 am |
  13. Desmond

    I do not believe the question should be added. Those that are here illegally would likely lie or not fill it out. I believe many of those that would not return the census would not have regardless.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:21 am |
  14. Kim

    It's the census. That's what a census does, determines who and how many are living in the United States for purely demographic reasons and for determining how many representatives each state has in the federal government. I think its also important to know how many legal and non-legal residents are in the country. To govern properly, you need to know who your population is and what their needs are.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:20 am |
  15. Alan

    Senator Vitter and many many others assume that they know what the "founding fathers" meant in the constitution. I doubt that any of us "know" exactly what they were thinking unless they wrote specifically what they were thinking. The Preamble to the Constitution declares the "We the People of the United States..." it does not say "We the Citizens of the United States...or "We the wealthy white men who are writing this document..." The document does not exclude anyone living in this includes everyone "WE the PEOPLE..." I think this is a very important statement and tells us that the Founders wanted everyone included in what this country has to offer. Keep in mind, slaves, native americans, even women were not considered citizens at the had to be a property owner to vote back then...and all of those PEOPLE were counted in the census.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  16. Andrew

    When the constitution was written the United State was barely above a third world country. Any one looking for better economic prospects would have had a better chance in England or France. I doubt the framers could have imagined the eventual rise to economic domination that would cause the mass migration we currently have.

    Constitutionally it would be illegal to ask the "Are you a citizen" question but I would support an amendment to the constitution to change the census language to "count citizens" or taking one step further, "count tax-paying citizens." As a citizen from Texas where this amendment would decrease the number of representatives the state would receive in the coming years, I still agree with the restriction. Texas has been a more vigilant steward of its artificially high number of representatives than California but government needs to be about fairness and counting non-citizens is not close to being fair.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  17. laquetta

    it is silly of all who feels that this question is relevent. it doesnt matter if the people counted are citizens or not. the point of the census is to have adequate coverage for everyone that is here. if people who are not citizens not be counted, then the funds that are allotted will still be misappropriated because you would have less money and more people. face it, non citizens are here and we need to have adequate geographical coverage of everyone so that our country runs smoother. u would have the same effect as with the health care, although people dont have insurance, the non insured are still paid for off of our backs, so why not include them anyway? tax payers money are not distributed because of any of your personal opinions, because you are not a legislater. u can say all day how u feel your money should be spent, but it is still up to your legislators, Republican or Democratic. i however, feel that if the question would make anybody feel any better, then add it next census or the wise guy Politician should have been bright enough to mak this argument much sooner. the question was never in any other census questionaire, so what significance would it have now after the billions of taxpayers dollars that it cost to generate the forms already. to me some of those people in Washington are really, really 3 cans short of a 6 pack.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:18 am |
  18. Jeff

    The number of representatives we have in Congress should not be determined by those who are here illegally. The easy answer on counting legal residents is to count them when they become citizens because not all legal residents are here to become citizens.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:17 am |
  19. Jane

    Of course, we should know if the person being questioned on the census form is or is not a citizen. Congressional districts absolutely not be drawn using numbers that include non-citizen residents. The southwestern states would gain representatives due to the huge number of illegals who are breaking the law by being here. Representatives should represent citizens, not non-citizens. Of course, you can ask the question. Will the people answer it honestly, though?
    What we need is enforcement of immigration laws. That will remove those who shouldn't be here in the first place from being around to even complete the form.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:16 am |
  20. salsadancer

    It's an important thing to know - of the people living here, how many are US citizens. When we know that, then we can decide how we want to spend taxpayer's money. The answer to this question can tell us how effective our border patrol is, the needs of Immigration Service, and the number of non-citizens whose needs we have to meet . Apportionment is for representatin of citizens, not non-citizens.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:15 am |
  21. James Vaughn

    Yes, we should ask that question in order to make the census accurate. The cost of including this question is a lot but could possibly save the legal, tax paying American alot more. Also, it will will be cheaper and accomplish more than the so called bailout money we (tax paying Americans) gave to line the pockets of big companies and financial institutions CEO pockets. Ask the question and if it offends someone, so what.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:15 am |
  22. Rick Robertson

    Absolutely the question concerning U.S. citizenship should be asked regardless of cost or impact to the schedule for taking the census. I agree with Senator Vitter's opinion that the INTENT of the founding fathers was to count citizens since the make-up of Congress depends on the results of the census. Does anybody think it is fair that California could gain a seat in Congress at the expense of one of Louisiana's seats if it is a result of illegal aliens and non-citizens? What are we coming to when illegals can have an impact on the make-up of Congress and the distrubution of Federal funds?

    November 4, 2009 at 8:14 am |
  23. Jan Booth

    I am now a naturalized American (from Canada) but for many, many years I was a landed immigrant (with a green card.) Resident aliens, work, marry and pay taxes and occupy space in this country and therefore THEY are what you count in a census-NOT citizens. I had a job as a census taker and I know that the reason for the census is to count the NUMBER OF PEOPLE in the United States.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:14 am |
  24. Zaida

    Fine and dandy to count everyone.. but being a U.S. citizen is a privilege, not an entitlement. You should be a citizen of the U.S.of A. to have a voice represent you in our government. Anyone visiting or staying at my home doesn't have the freedom/right to make decisions on how it runs. The only decision they have is whether they want to stay or not. The rest is left to family.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  25. Andy

    You need to better understand your government. They arte represented in the Senate. Each state has two Senators who represent all their population. This only applies to house members.
    The statement that non-citizens should also be represented is ridiculous. If I live in England, France – heck anywhere else in the world am an American Citizen and there either legally or illegally should I expect the locally elected officials to answer to me instead of the legal citizens that elect them?

    November 4, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  26. Steve

    Ted has some issues with non-whites...I bet hes has a lot of love in his heart for himself.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  27. Ted

    While the “citizen” question would be even more useful if it was able to actually detect legal vs. illegal status, the proposed amendment is not probing legal status, simply citizen status, which is somewhat reasonable as representation is primarily for citizens, not guests. Fact is, however, the legal status would be so wonderful to know, because representation should be optimally based upon legal residents, not even “citizen” status. There are many legal residents who are not citizens. Only illegals truly need to be weeded out from the count that representation is based on.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  28. Tomas

    I noticed none of the incisive and unbiased reporters at the desk worried much at the cost of government mandating 5 paid sick days for all workers. The cost to business will be passed on to consumers in higher prices and poorer products and services. Nor did I find CNN's crack reporters dwelling on the hundreds of BILLIONS of "porkulus" $$$ given to pet projects and profligate, corrupt Dem state governments. But when it comes to a 450 million dollars to ensure the accuracy of the census – A CENSUS THAT WILL DETERMINE STATES" SHARES OF FED GOV"T LARGESS FOR THE NEXT DECADE – smug Mr. Roberts becomes a deficit hawk. Maybe you guys should play reruns of "Latino in America" so that you can further emphasize your corporate solidarity with illegal aliens. Come to think of it, that may be the only demographic you can tap for your abysmal ratings.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:11 am |
  29. bill j

    just another political ploy by republicans because they cannot identify with immigrants, minorities and in general te working class. ironic that their biggest constituency , business is moot on the point ,possibly because they benefit the most by using underpaid and under represented laborers...they should go read the words on the Statue of Liberty or eventhe most loved republican, Abraham Lincoln.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:10 am |
  30. Rick

    Absolutely the question should be asked and answered. The census only occurs every 10 years, and we should not miss this opportunity to determine the number of non-citizens living in this country, legal or not. We must be the only country in the world to be too afraid to ask this question. Illegal immigration is a huge problem in the US, and we must begin to get a handle on the scope of the problem.

    The people of the United States have a right to know how many US citizens are living in this country, as well as how many others are here and their legal status. It is especially important because the results determine representation in Congress. I am sick and tired of political correctness run amok. Has this country completely lost its sanity? It goes without saying that are politicians clearly have.

    I won't buy the excuse that it will cost too much to reprint the forms. All the have to do is attach a gummed sticker to each form asking that question.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:09 am |
  31. Steve N.

    Senator Vitter has a great point. The U.S. Census Form should inlcude the question "Are you a U.S. Citizen?" It's not fair that some States will loose Congressional Seats because they DO NOT harbor large numbers of illigal immigrants at the expense of legal U.S. Citizens. California spends as much as 12 Billion Dollars per year to provide health care and education to illegal immigrants at taxpayer expense. To spend One Billion Dollars to ensure States and legal U.S. Citizens are counted and protected – not only seems like like a great investment, but only fair to legal U.S. Citizens! Senator Vitter's amendment should be supported

    November 4, 2009 at 8:09 am |
  32. Pamela

    Yes, I do think the question (Are you a U.S. citizen?) should be included on the census, however, do you really think people will answer this question honestly? I don't - my guess is that those who are here illegally would fear deportation.

    However, if our government would go back to the way people used to be allowed into our country (Ellis Island, e.g.), and would monitor the borders more closely, we might not have this problem today.

    It is definitely now fair that states like California, with a high number of illegals, should end up with a higher number of representatives vs. a state with few illegals. The number of state representatives should definitely be determined by the legal citizen count, but I'm not sure this question on the census form would be the solution to the problem.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:07 am |
  33. Maureen

    ABSOLUTELY the question of citizenship should be asked and answered.
    Our ever-frugal government would never consider re-doing the forms.

    As a business person (and a mom) I am REQUIRED to watch wasteful spending. It doesn't take a genius to order stickers made and add it to the form.
    Simple.... inexpensive

    November 4, 2009 at 8:07 am |
  34. Albert L Miller

    Sen. Vitter should submit proposal to change law. Too late for this census

    November 4, 2009 at 8:07 am |
  35. Steve N.

    Senator Vitter has a great point. The U.S. Census Form should inlcude the question "Are you a U.S. Citizen?" It's not fair that some States will loose Congressional Seats because they harbor large numbers of illigal immigrants at the expense of legal U.S. Citizens. California spends as much as 12 Billion Dollars per year to provide health care and education to illegal immigrants at taxpayer expense. To spend One Billion Dollars to ensure States and legal U.S. Citizens are counted and protected - not only seems like like a great investment, but only fair to legal U.S. Citizens! Senator Vitter's amendment should be supported.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:07 am |
  36. josh

    yea absolutely you should be asked if you are a citizen on the 2010 US census form ! Even going back to the time of the constition referring to the whole number of persons in a household and living here in the U S A . Not those that come up here work in the summer and then take themselves and the money they earned while here back to Mexico or whereever they came from for the winter .

    November 4, 2009 at 8:07 am |
  37. Michael McCall

    Senator Vitter is promoting this bad idea for personal reasons to whip up xenophobia and anti-immigrant fervor to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. Vitter's proposal if adopted would likely result in a significant reduction in census response rates and is likely unconstitutional to boot.

    Senator Vitter ought to get his own house in order before he proposes spending another billion dollars of our tax money pursuing his partisan agenda. I propose the addition of one additional single question to Senator Vitter's census forms. How much public money have you wasted from your U.S. Senate salary over the last 12 months paying hookers instead of attending to the interests of Louisiana and the country?

    November 4, 2009 at 8:07 am |
  38. Kathleen

    Of course Americans have the right to know who is here legally/illegally. If you walked into your home and a stranger was sitting on your sofa, would you not ask them who they were and what they were doing in your home? Barbara Lee and the rest of the corrupt politicians distribute hundreds of billions of our tax dollars for services to illegal aliens and now they come up with yet one more way to aid and abet illegal aliens, their future subjects/voters.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:06 am |
  39. Nelle

    This country no longer cares about its citizens. We are too politically correct. No one should be offended to be asked if you are a citizen or here legally. True American citizens are now second class citizens in their own country. This needs to stop. What is wrong with coming to this country to be an American"? That means learing English, just as all our forefathers did. It does not mean your loyalty remains with the country and culture you left behind. It does not mean your forget your heritage, but you are in America now.
    I am embarrased to see the course this country has taken regarding illegals. We dont' enforce our own laws. We are more concerned with what Mexico thinks than our own citizens. The politicians in Washington are not listening to those who elected them. Are there no politicians who truly care about American interests? The little guy? It appears not. A very sad state of affairs. Obama is doing nothing to "change" this problem.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:06 am |
  40. DJ in Denver

    This is a waste of time and money. The census counts all the people and those that represent the people represent all the people. Are you a cititzen does not single out people illegally here because they would likely lie anyway. It's a bad question. If the Republicans want to waste time and money they should just waste it like they always have.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:05 am |
  41. Andy

    The Constitution says count the people- does not say what sex, age, income, religion, size of hourse -etc- all added to give clear picture of these people.
    Simply asking if a citizen or not is no different. Counting legal citizens to determine the number of representatives a state has is crucial. These Representatives are representing the legal citizens of their District and allowing a count of ILLEGAL people to inflate their population in reality since the number of House members is a set number actually disinfranchises legal citizens and their vote in states that have smaller illegal populations or better inforce their laws.
    I am sure a short one page addedeum could be aded at very minimual cost.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:05 am |
  42. David

    I think it's an essential question... I hope the congressman prevails and gets it included. Citizenship is becoming a worthless distinction.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:05 am |
  43. Steve

    I am not a U.S. Citizen yet. I am person living legally in the U.S. with authorization from DHS to work while USCIS takes forever to approve my Green Card application. So where doe that leaves Permanent Residents and the thousand of people like me who are not yet Citizen and whose Resident is pending with that census question. Either leave the question out of expand on it to find out everybody status.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:04 am |
  44. Rick Darrow

    What a waist of money on this census. Intil this Government starts doing things that make sense for this country, Im not doing anything for them. To put it short, When I get my census it goes into the trash. Im not the only one that has that attitude. Many others has told me they will do the same.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:04 am |
  45. marie

    The question " Are you an American citizen ?" should have already been in the census. What is the harm in knowing whether the answer to that question. The gov't will know the answer anyway when someone applies for American citizen. I say put it in .

    November 4, 2009 at 8:03 am |
  46. Kevin

    99% of all the citezens that are here illegally or not are hard workers. They do the jobs that most of use Americans are to lazy to do. We should count them. I think you have a congressman that is throwing a tantrum about possibly loosing a seat in the senate. He doesn't care how much money it's going to cost us. Well he says it's already costing us 15 BILLION!! So what another 1 billion. This is what's wrong with these lazy polititians. They don't care, it's not coming out of their pocket, so who cares! It's wrong and unfortunatly it's the way our elected officials think. I'm sadened the way our country has become.

    And by the way your husband did nothing wrong. And shouldn't be treated as if he did. Keep fitting for him.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:03 am |
  47. Albert L Miller

    Sen Vitter should submit a proposal to have our legislators decide. Too late for such a process to affect present Census.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:03 am |
  48. Tom Ransom

    How ridiculous to count non citizens in the census. It is very obvious that it was intentional to leave the citizenship question out. One more step toward the liberal Dems giving our country away. They do lie, and they may find a total civil revolt when they try to make the illegals citizens. Why can't they just enforce the laws that have been placed on the books by those that came before them. ALL OUR CHILDREN WILL PAY FOR WHAT THESE PEOPLE ARE DOING. Tom from TEXAS

    November 4, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  49. Vernon

    My first reaction to finding out that the question of citizenship not being on the census was a mistake, one that I'm starting to wonder if not done purposely. If your taking a census, one of the very first questions should be of citizenship. I would think our government would want to know and understand exactly how many non-citizens are in the USA.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  50. Poindexter

    I find it ridiculous that this lawmaker would advocate the unneccesary spending that he proposes . I am so sick of these legislators that want to tack on to every bill their stupid adjendas .I would think the people of Louisiana would want to send him packing.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  51. Lois Heimbaugh

    Confirmation of citizenship should be added to the census. But, you don't reprint the entire census at a cost of $1 billion. Simply do a sticker that is affixed to each form by the census taker interviewing the household. It's important that we count the true number of citizens vs. visitors living in the U.S.A. Let's get it right this time around.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  52. Paul Nawrocki

    If the Census is to determine political representation, then it makes sense that it should know how many of the people counted are citizens. Those who are opposed to this have their own political agendas in mind and not what is best for the American people.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:01 am |
  53. Sandra Forde

    I agree-Americans have spent millions/billions on illegal immigrants-It's time that people realize that America have been footing the bill way to long-The first word says it all-ILLEGAL-This should help Americans understand the cost of "Healthcare" in the USA the current Bill does NOT INCLUDE these specific people-let alone we have to support the children that that are born in this country-regardless that the mother- will abandon the child at America's gate-We as Americans have the right to know and to be proctected from this.
    Great idea!!!!!!

    November 4, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  54. Carolyn

    I agree with Vitter's suggestion to add the question "Are you a Citizen?" to the census forms. The cost to reprint them is insignigicant compared to the billions that are being spent on other government programs that many find are ineffective. If Obama supporters are all for "Change", let's change things and get it right in this country for once. It would be a one time cost to make this change and from that point forward, the census would be much more accurate. The government has been stating for over 6 months now that they want fix what has been done in the past. Well, step up to the plate!

    November 4, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  55. phillip

    The question should be added . Weare trying to find out how many US taxpayers, voters actually live here.why should we count illegals they don't pay taxes and can't vote. Why should we count them when they are not a part of our country. It would be unfair to actually count them and decide how many representatives each state gets based on every one in that rather than how many citizens are in that state. Representatives are supposed to represent us not illegals.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  56. Bob Cooper

    Senator Vitter has something there... an attempt at a reasonable method to get an accurate count of the citizen/noncitizen ratio. All other numbers referred to by agencies to date are frankly guesswork and/or an extrapolation of numbers. While illegals will shrink from answering the question of citizenship or most likely lie to be consistent with counterfeit documents . . . an attempt should be made to get this count as changing the balance of representation of states in Congress is serious business and everything possible should be done to make sure that change is factually justified.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  57. barbara murray

    i'm a la resident why are entertaining this nut.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  58. Scott

    Why spend upwards of a billion dollars to add a question to the census when that question won't even be answered truthfully anyway?

    How many illegal immigrants (already wary of the federal governemnt and scared of being sent back to their place of origin) are really going to say they are not a US citizen on a questionaire that will allow the government to find them?

    Sounds like a ridiculous waste of money to me.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  59. Bryan

    This is definitely something that we should add to the Census. It is time that Americans stand up and stop catering to the illegals that plague our country. The money that it will cost to change the questionaire will be far surpassed by the money that these illegals will cost tax payers over the next 10 years.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:59 am |
  60. Tom

    Absolutely --the census SHOULD ask whether a person is a citizen or legal resident.
    WE should never be spending citizens tax money on ILLEGAL ALIENS.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:59 am |
  61. heidy

    my question is does Senator David Vitter implies that the non us citizens that are legal residents do not count or do not have the right to be represented in the senate? they still pay taxes and are part of our comunity.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:58 am |
  62. Morning

    I think this goes beyond the Constitution...the real issue here is a Republican senator is proposing an action that will cost a billion dollars to enact when we all know any person who is NOT a US citizen will not answer that question. Here we have a senator from a party that overtly accuses our current Administration of wreckless spending and this Republican party constantly asserts that if they were in control of the White House our Country would be out of this financial crisis by now...a billion dollars to add a question that would largely go unanswered, really?

    November 4, 2009 at 7:58 am |
  63. Bobbie Murray

    This is outrageous!!! The GOP complains about dem's being the "big spenders"? Please lets continue to let republicans flush and waste every dime we have and skew our constitution in which ever way it serves them best... By the by, isn't this the same guy who blew off the rape victim at a town hall meeting a little bit ago? Nice...

    November 4, 2009 at 7:58 am |
  64. Terry

    Of course this should be one of the first questions on the form. This country has taken a wrong turn and is well on it's way to ruin because of asinine issues like this.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:58 am |
  65. Lindsey

    Yes, that question SHOULD have been on there in the first place. How can you ever get a count of the true population without it. Those people who aren't legal have no rights (supposedly) so why do they spend so much time and money trying to apease them

    November 4, 2009 at 7:57 am |
  66. Mark

    Clearly, your just broadcast report concerning the cost of re-printing the Census Form is totally false. Again, your pathetic bias is obvious. Perhaps you can explain why re-printing a TEN question form will cost over $3 FOR EVERY PERSON IN THE COUNTRY based on your bogus report that the cost would be almost a BILLION dollars to add the "citizen" question. There is only one form for each address, not each body – what a farce. Quote your source!!!!!!!

    November 4, 2009 at 7:57 am |
  67. Carlton Chase

    Absurd. Absurd from a senator from a state in desperate need of additional federal funding to help it still recover from Katrina. I think if people want to entertain such xenophobia, they should at least have the courtesy to wait for the next census. If they are going to be late to the tea party, let them pick up the tab.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:57 am |
  68. Ty

    Asking "are you a citizen?" does not tell you much. There are several visas statuses (F/J-1 for international students and H1B for workers, for example) that grant legal temporary residence, and for which holders would have to answer 'no' and they are not illegal aliens!

    November 4, 2009 at 7:57 am |
  69. Terry, TX

    Yes.....the question of citizenship needs to be asked....but democrats don't embrace American citizens.....they embrace criminal trespassers to our country....ACORN....ACLU...trillion dollar borrowed money from China...bashing companies who employ American citizens....on and on.
    Their positions are a joke.....and I am going to say it.....UNAMERICAN.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  70. SF

    Yes I think it should be added. There are a lot of illegal immigrants to this country and I think this is a good way to help with this issue. There is only one problem-the illegal immigrants have not been honest with the government so far, so what's to say they won't be dishonest on this? As far as changing the constitution, that is a great idea. When the constitution was written, the number of illegial immigrants were not near the number they are now.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  71. darian weaver

    Are you a US citizen should be the first question asked. This country and its government exist for this country and its people. Illegals by basic definatioin are law breakers....if not why have laws at all.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  72. Sam

    The framers of the constitution also intended that black people only be counted as 3/5 of a person. Everyone knows how wrong that was. If the Senator wants to be such strict constructionist of the constitution, I wonder what he would say of this?

    November 4, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  73. Diane Borneman

    The U.S. census is used to determine the number of representatives each district gets. Since illegal aliens are unable to vote, it is wrong to have them counted in the census for this purpose. If you want to simply count them and not adjust representation on their numbers, then that is fine.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  74. J. O'Heir

    The question of citizenship is appropriate on a national census. As I understand it, this question will not change the total number being recorded, only indicate how many of the total are U. S. citizens.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  75. Kenny

    Sure! He can have the question. Since we have spent enough taxpayer money for a lifetime, maybe he can handwrite the question all every single form.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  76. Eric

    The question can be posed but the person will answer any way they see fit. Most would probably lie out of fear of being targeted for deportation.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:56 am |
  77. Greg

    Of course we should ask if you are a citizen. We've been invaded by Mexico and other countries and need to not count those invaders.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  78. Norman L. Wiechnick

    Is my understanding the Congressmen and Senators are elected to represent the people not just the citizens. Sounds to me as if Senator Vitter is just plain lazy for not wanting to represent ALL of residents of his state.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  79. Jeremy

    It is completely reasonable to ask whether or not someone is a U.S. citizen on the upcoming census. The purpose of this information is to correctly represent the voting constituents in each state, not start a witch hunt for people living in this country illegally. The separate issue of the additional cost is an important one, but as long as we're doing a census, we might as well do it right.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  80. joan bonaminio

    It should be the first question and if the answer is no, the others questions shouldn't apply.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  81. Kenny

    Sure! He can have the question. Since we have spent enough taxpayer for a lifetime, maybe he can handwrite the question all every single form.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:55 am |
  82. John

    I am a non-resident and I pay taxes at the local, state and federal level.
    If non-citizens are not taken into consideration for state representation then I want my taxes back.

    No taxation witout representation, isn't that a truely american concept?

    November 4, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  83. Jonathan Fret

    Being that the census questionaires have been printed already, why not wait until 2011 to add the question "Are you a US citizen?". It would save all the txpayers money being that we truly are the ones paying for it.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  84. Pete McDermott

    Why would anyone even have to ask this question?
    It's America and we are taking a census. We need to know how many males we have and how many females we have, how many adults we have, how many children we have AND how many citizens we have and how many non-citizens we have.
    Pete McDermott
    Southold, NY

    November 4, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  85. Glenda Davis

    How could there be any consideration in having a census that did not ask the citizenship question. It's truly unfortunate that the forms were printed without this question, but the redistricting of our congress is based on this information. We must have this question on the census!

    November 4, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  86. Rebecca

    Since congressional representation is based on census numbers I feel that only citizens should be counted. Otherwise states with large non-citizen populations willl be given an inappropriate advantage. Foounding fathers wanted "whole persons" counted and by their definitions "whole persons" were citizens–remember slaves were not citiznes and not counted as whole persons. The cost for reprinting is a problem, but one wonders why this question wasn't added a long time ago well prior to the current printing.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  87. Robert Hughes

    non citizens should not be counted!!

    Port Charlotte, Fl.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  88. MidWestIowan

    US CITIZEN question is a must and required in the census form. Every application from Schooling to Job applying goes with that question and no one has the objection.

    It's easier way to weed out the illegals (not that they need to kick out from the country).

    November 4, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  89. Alvie L. Davidson

    As a certified genealogist I know this question was asked by previous census enumerators. Check out the 1930 Census of Cuyahoga County, OH and you will see loads of persons who were born abroad and yet were counted on the census. But the question was asked if they were an alien or a naturalized citizen.
    Why did the current keeper of the census see this when preparing the form which they are currently using? No homework, I think!

    November 4, 2009 at 7:54 am |
  90. Jim

    Obviously this is essential information and should be asked. It makes no sense to "not want to know"

    November 4, 2009 at 7:53 am |
  91. Cammi

    What a ridiculous waste of money to add that question to the census! In any case, do they really think people would answer that truthfully. Whoever has proposed adding that question (at taxpayer expense) is obviously trying to make a name for himself. Just pure politics!

    November 4, 2009 at 7:53 am |
  92. Ankur

    The idea of asking "Are you a US citizen" seems like we're going back to the 3/5th rule in which slaves were considered 3/5 a person... I take a literal approach to interpreting this part of the Constitution in which it says "the whole number of persons in each state". As it's written it doesn't make any mention of legal/illegal.
    The point is that people who are here in this country, legal or illegal, are here, period. That's all that matters.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:52 am |
  93. Darrell Porche

    I believe that the question should be added to the census form. If the constitution states to count citizens, illegal aliens, which are non-citizens, should not be counted.

    November 4, 2009 at 7:52 am |
  94. Anne

    give the census takers a stamp that they can stamp on the questionair..

    maybe they can write it in..

    November 4, 2009 at 7:52 am |
  95. Ted

    why do liberals make this so hard. If they just went through the Socal Security data bank they would get a lot better of an idean how many LEGAL citizens there are and then they could pretty much figure out how many ILLEGALS are here! by whos getting a free handout (tax payer money in any form)and is NOT a citizen!

    November 4, 2009 at 7:49 am |
  96. Ted

    We dont need census, all we have to do is look up all the Socal Security numbers and get a better idea who lives in this country and who is illegal! It appalles me that Mexicans think along with liberals think we should accommodate these illegals and even change our official language to Spanish! My question why was the boy in Florida and the girl in Richmond not classified as race crimes when both victims were white and out numbered by other than white people! Not once was it reported as a hate or even a race crime! I wander if the situation was different and the mobs were white and the victims were either black or hispanic if the media would have been all over this as if there nothing in the world worse than a white man picking on a minority!

    November 4, 2009 at 7:42 am |
  97. Ted

    Hey Debbie, we live in delicate times, but if you are white you dont get to enjoy the same priviledges socially as minorities do! Its a total double standard, I think its liberal ways of paying back for what our long distant relatives did! We must not forget in the long scheme of things that it was the black man who sold the black man in the first place and without this first step, slavery would have never happened! So lets stop placing all the blame on the white man because it takes two to tangle!

    November 4, 2009 at 7:34 am |
  98. Ted

    Its just a way for the liberals to make it look like there arent that many illegals, but all it means for me is higher taxes to help these people out! Its ok for Obama to steal my hard earned money and give it to law breaking illegals!

    November 4, 2009 at 7:30 am |
  99. Debbie

    How can the Government ask this question? My husband is being expelled from Indiana University because he asked a hispanic woman that was yelling at him if she spoke english. They are charging him with "fighting words" and he was asking because he was trying to tell her she was right. Now they won't allow him to register at the college and holding his transcripts so that he can not apply at another college. I would say his right to free speech is being denied and aren't his transcripts his paid for property.
    This college prides itself in how is embraces diversity, however who embraces white males???
    We were contacted by one organization that offered help and we quickly refused the KKK's offer.
    So how can something like this be allow when a citizen can't ask if someone speaks English???

    November 4, 2009 at 7:13 am |
  100. Jackie

    Clearly when our founders wrote the constitution I am sure they could not have foreseen so many illegal people coming to our country. At that time people came to the US to live here, abide in our laws and make this their country. That would be what we call now citizens.
    I do agree it would be a fine question to ask, but also think the question should say, are you a citizen or legal resident because we should include those who came here legally and are in the process of citizenship.

    November 4, 2009 at 6:41 am |
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