American Morning

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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. Melissa Cantrell

    If you are not a citzen of the United You should not be able to even fill out on the census you have no grounds to stand on and should go home like Jesus had to do where he was born. If your not legal to live here you should not be allowed to say you are.

    March 25, 2010 at 8:35 am |
  2. SP

    By the way is too bad that the only thing you can do is attack someones grammar or speaking ability. Not once did you address the subject matter. So according to the standard you set, you were also in error.
    To knicknac....we have a few medical people in our family. It is sad to think that many of our doctors in the ER don't get paid AT ALL for 60% or more of those they care for.

    Yes, Tony it counted slaves. The slaves were counted separately and you knew they were slaves. In case you haven't checked a past US census, only the name of the head of households were used before the 1850 census and that also omitted the names of women, children and slaves.
    Do you think it might have been in part because they also could not vote. So one might think that an effort was being made to count the voting population. You were ask as well if you owned or rented.
    Oh, yes..they also couldn't vote if they didn't own land or property. So, I don't think an amendment would be necessary. Only the desire by our current governing authorities to stop this political correctness stupidity and be just and fair to the legal citizens of this country regardless of their color or sex.

    If what was in the blog a few months ago... that in California
    non-citizens cannot be counted for apportionment under the provisions of the 14th Amendment, then why would the citizen question not be necessary?
    A lot Federal money is past out based on the number of individuals. And yes this effects the number of representatives given to the states...
    of which all the border states have a huge number of undocumented people streaming across our borders. So maybe they will get a little more money based on numbers. But after all, these people use all the public facilities at tax payers expense.
    Yes many of these illegals are willing to work but many request they be paid in cash. No paper trail to follow. They do use our hospitals and schools for free so I guess you could justify extra money for the border states since they have to foot the bill.

    I'm for a voter ID card with a picture and I don't think that would bother any US citizen. If they are here legally that should not bother them. If they are here illegally, they should not be voting. And if they can't read it in English how can they decide who to vote for?

    Perhaps a solution would be to have some type of a workers card and a minimum STATE income tax be set and withheld from their wages like we do for Social Security, before they send part of it out of the country. This would help off set the cost in those states that are effected by the gross misuse of our public services. It might also expose the abuse they suffer at the hands of greedy business people that employ them and the trafficking of people across our border. It would not give them amnesty nor automatic citizenship. Simply a way to make a living that is also fair to those of us who are now footing the bill. They are not immigrants. They are illegals. That word says it all.

    March 22, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  3. knicknac

    debbie, I sympathize. Your hubby is being screwed, along with the rest of us, but him more directly. Everytime I do prenatals and labor and delivery bloodwork on an illegal and her new bundle of lottery ticket anchor joy – at the expense of the state I might add- it makes me furious. I suspect the census question will be used to say 'hey, too many of them, lets have amnesty!"

    March 15, 2010 at 8:49 pm |
  4. Tony

    Clearly the original intent of the founders of the Constitution was to count all persons (citizens and non-citizens). It specifically partially counted slaves (who were not considered citizens). To change this, we'd need a constitutional amendment.

    March 15, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  5. Linda Dombeck

    There sure are a LOT of people in this country who DO NOT know how to spell and use punctuation in their writing-or typing! Do you not know that what you put in that is an error, or what you leave out, in error, can significantly alter what you are saying? And, PROOFREAD what you write!!! It is disgusting to listen to speakers who can't speak, and to try to read what has been submitted by writers who can't write, and do not proofread their work.


    March 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
  6. Gregorach

    Yes, we need to ask this question. The U.S. census is used to determine number of electoral representatives each district (and state) gets. Since illegals are unable to vote (because they broke the law to get here), it is wrong to have them counted in the census for this purpose. When a state (like Florida or Texas) is the crucial decider in an election, based on disproportionate amount of illegals, then this affects the election.

    January 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  7. mike

    Cost and time are not the real issue they are not willing to change the forms. The IRS spent millions dollars to just to notify people they would or may be receiving a tax rebate. After screwing up, the forms the had to reprinted and mailed out for a second time.

    December 24, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  8. knicknac

    I got picked to answer the census- it states its for roads, schools, elderly care... yet what the hell does my race have to do with roads, schools, or elderly care. They should only be allowed to ask how many people live there. And that's it. I don't want to answer any of it. What can I not answer. if I actually believed the govt didn't actually want an influx of illegals (already here stealing your healthcare, schooling etc.) I would think the question would be used to improve border patrols and enforcement. But i think all the 'race' and 'are you a legal citizen' questions will be used to dilute enforcement and increase political correctness like calling illegals 'immigrants' instead of thieves.

    December 17, 2009 at 7:42 pm |
  9. Craig

    YES. This question is fair game. If you're here illegally however, then I would tell you to look up the definition of ILLEGAL and abide by it.

    November 9, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  10. Billy R

    Concerning the 2010 Census: What you broadcast this morning is wrong, and the congressmen who claimed that what Vitter is doing is divisive and illegal are wrong. Yes, the Constitution leaves voter requirements and registration to the separate states, but please read the Constitution in its entirety.

    Senators Vitter and Bennett are merely reiterating what is written in the Constitution as amended by the 14th, 19th and 26th Amendments. Section I of the 14 Amendment defines citizens as: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

    Section II of the 14th Amendment clearly states that “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. . . But when the right to vote at any election . . . is denied to any of the male (amended by the 19th Amendment to include females) inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age (amended by the 26th Amendment to include 18 year olds), and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged (read non-citizens and convicted felons) . . . the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male (and female: 19th Amendment) citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens (and female: 19th Amendment) twenty-one years of age (eighteen years of age: 26th Amendment) in such State.” All are counted, but apportionment of representatives shall be based on those who are citizens eligible to vote in the separate states of the United States.

    Please note:
    “You may register to vote in California if:
    ─You are a United States citizen
    ─You are a resident of California
    ─You are at least 18 years of age (or will be by the date of the next election)
    ─You are not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction. For more information on the rights of people who have been incarcerated, please see the Secretary of State's Voting Guide for Inmates.
    ─You have not been judged by a court to be mentally incompetent”

    California—as I imagine in most states—does not permit non-citizens the right to vote. Therefore, non-citizens cannot be counted for apportionment under the provisions of the 14th Amendment.

    November 5, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  11. Clark Houston

    only a moron would not ask if you are a us citizen

    November 5, 2009 at 10:30 am |
  12. JULIE

    I don't see a blog for why farmers are hiring illegal aliens. And, why they will not be even a whisper on the census?
    Knowing farmers in our area, and being very familar with these people. The rant on how Americans will not do these jobs is totally a large falsehood. They will not hire Americans, or do so for just a short while.
    Farmers do pay more than $5.00 an hour, most are getting $10 or more. Along with collecting food stamps as most are paid under the table. With free medical, free housing, and, the biggest triumph is farmers are subsidized to hire them. Why? They do not have to have workman's comp, withholding taxes, any accidents are paid by the state. No frear of insurance claims, las suits, etc. They do not have to pay overtime, as most of these workers work sometimes 14 hour days. no lunch breaks, and as recently as few days ago, they allow children to work. Not to mention the side benefits of sexual abuse.
    House maids, and other domestic help, usually include sexual benefits for the "employer". Some work for only not a wage but for housing and food. I lived in Calif for awhile, and how many in apts had "maids".
    If they forced the coverage of all employees, and, end subsidizing these people for hiring them, and, gave a bill for all food stamps and benefits, all these illegals would go home. And farmers would be forced to hire Americans. I have seen checks for the ones not getting paid under the table for $1800 and more dollars per week. These people are making some dang good money. Working seasonal, they go home and do not have to work the rest of the year. Some collect checks from the government in that time also. Amazing.
    Go try getting a farm job and see, unless you are alien, they suddenly are not hiring......

    November 5, 2009 at 9:33 am |
  13. kay corcoran

    I am a genealogist who gets most of my ancestors history from the census. The federal censuses of 1870 and 1880 asked place of birth and the parents place of birth.

    Censuses of 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 requested place of birth and parents place of birth. Year of immigration to the US and citizen or alien.
    The NY STATE censuses of 1905 and 1915 also requested the number of years in the US and citizen or alien.

    The illegal aliens a financial drain but what worries me is the terrorist already here who will never be counted because of the continued lenience of our government..

    November 4, 2009 at 11:39 pm |
  14. Rodger P

    Only citizens of the US should be counted for representation. The question (Are you a US citizen?) should be added to the census form. I doubt, as Carol Costello said, that it would cost a billion dollars to reprint.

    November 4, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  15. selena

    DJ in Denver, well if someone here illegal was filling out the census in the 1st place or would tell the true if ask...I mean really lets move on to bigger issues

    November 4, 2009 at 5:51 pm |
  16. Wally

    No Roxie; not only liberals have been in power for the last 100 years. They are the ones, though, that want to tar and feather and ridicule those of us who think that if you are in this country illegally then you are committing a crime. Their political correctness is sickening both to me and to the overall wellbeing of this country. To the person above who said he was a non resident and works and pays taxes here my question is are you here on a work visa or some other form of legal entry. If not GO HOME!

    November 4, 2009 at 4:53 pm |
  17. Otto

    No need to reprint the forms, just bust a move and kick out all the illegals before 2010.

    November 4, 2009 at 4:00 pm |

    I don't know about that "JOHN" We here in the US have plenty of TAXATION and to my knowledge we have no Representaion in Washington or at any government level what so ever, only deep pockets and thiefs.......

    November 4, 2009 at 3:21 pm |
  19. Terry from West Texas

    There is nothing wrong with the government wanting to know who is a citizen and who is not. We need to know who is living in the country. We all know that there are millions of immigrants living among us who are not here legally. This is a problem that needs a solution, but no solution can be devised until we know who is who and how many there are.

    Our fathers, their fathers, and their fathers wanted cheap labor, and they encouraged illegal immigration. I have lived on the Mexican border all my life. I have lived and worked among folks with a very murky immigration status since I got my first job in 1963. We are not going to deport ten or twenty million people, many of whom are parents to or married to an American citizen. But, we need to straighten all of this out and come up with a new immigration policy.

    Personally, I think the population of America needs to shrink, not grow, and I am opposed to all immigration of any kind. Our infrastructure will simply not generate that much more electricity, purify that much more water, educate that many more children, and process that much more sewage.

    November 4, 2009 at 3:17 pm |
  20. Vicky

    The government can print whatever it likes on the form. I will only fill out the part that is required by the constitution: how many people live here? Everything else I consider an unnecessary infringement on my privacy.

    November 4, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  21. Katie

    If this question does make it onto the form, I hope they take into account that there can be multiple people living in a home who are not all citizens or non-citizens.

    For example, I am a US Citizen. My husband is not. He has a green card. Our children are dual citizens of the US and their father's home country. We host an exchange student who is here on a J-1 visa.

    There had better be more than one box! I know we aren't the only family in America with this particular scenario!

    November 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  22. Kirstie

    This should totally be allowed. The point of the census is not to discriminate against people, but to count how many people live in each state to as to accurately grant that state the number of representatives. Illegals and non-citizens cannot vote, so why should they be counted? They should not be treated as less of a person for it, but they can't vote, and the census figures out the needed number of representatives for eligible voters. As the senator points out, California has more non-citizens than Louisiana, and his state will lose seats if they are counted, despite being unable to vote. I'm not a citizen and I think this should be added!

    Also, SSN number data base? Really people. People double up on those all the time. Useless.

    November 4, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  23. Nan

    In 2006 it was estimated that there were approximately 12.1 million "legal permanent residents" (green card holders) living in the US.

    So, to repeat what some others have said, not all non-citizens are illegal.

    November 4, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  24. fred shapiro

    This shows how short sighted people truly are. The people complaining about all of the illiegal immigrants are suggestting that finding out how many illegals there are is so critical that we should ignore the Constitution (some great citizens, huh?). Well, if they think they already know how many illegals they are-why ask? And if they do not know-why manufacture the issue? And by the way-both legal AND illegal immigrants pay taxes-so why shouldn't they be counted? Finally, no one has ever suggestted that the Census purpose was to count citizens-hence the counting of slaves as 3/5 people-even though they could not vote and did not pay taxes.

    November 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm |
  25. don

    I'm a not a US citizen. I was born in Texas.

    November 4, 2009 at 2:29 pm |
  26. Cheryl

    If David Vitter's staff thought this up, then I'm automatically against it.

    November 4, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  27. Christi from Houston

    The real question should be "Are you a tax-paying citizen?" Because the free-loaders should really not have a voice.

    November 4, 2009 at 2:16 pm |
  28. Tony

    The question,"Are you a US citizen?" should have been included in the cencus. And the basis of this question would be to determine how many representatives each state would be authorized.

    The 14th Amendment states the "counting of whole persons" for the purpose of deterining respresentation for each state. Intially it was only white males that were to be counted. Amendments to the US Constitution now includes all individual regardless of race or sex.

    There is still one stipulation that has not been changed from the original document. For the purpose of determining representiation, only those that can legally vote shall be counted. In order to legally vote, you have to be a US Citizen.

    November 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm |
  29. Graham

    I am a legal permanent resident (I am a British citizen). I work and pay taxes. Mr Vitter, if you don't want me to count in the population, please refund my taxes.

    November 4, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  30. Gilbert

    Some of these comments are very disturbing. Like: "We've been invaded by Mexico and other countries and need to not count those invaders." Umm we were the original invaders and we took the west from Mexico by invading thier land! Also the comments about paying taxes are misinformed. In fact a large percentage of non-citizens (illegals and legals without citizenship) pay local, state, and federal taxes and they deserve representation! NO TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!

    November 4, 2009 at 2:05 pm |
  31. C Autrey

    To not ask the question is un-American. And, as we all know, it's all about $.

    November 4, 2009 at 2:01 pm |
  32. John

    The question should be asked, along with the choice for Permanent Residents. Representatives represent citizens, not all the population.

    To anna: Our Founding Fathers did not come here illegally – there were no laws in this land barring them at the time.

    To MW in MD: Study history – natives of Africa were capturing other natives of Africa to use as slaves and to sell to others as slaves. Slavery is not an American invention, and Blacks were not the only people enslaved. Africa, Europe, and Asia were at it long before America picked up the practice.

    November 4, 2009 at 2:00 pm |
  33. Bubba

    Vitter? Are you KIDDING me? Why should we listen to anything that self-serving jerk has to say? He's trying to wrap himself in the flag of immigrant-hating, hoping we'll all forget how weird and UnAmerican his own 'family values' are.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:48 pm |
  34. Richard

    The citizenship question is always asked on the form. See question 23 on the 1930 census. Why doesn't the media fact check the statements from government organization?

    November 4, 2009 at 1:46 pm |
  35. Sazzie

    Roxie – you state "A better question might be are you qualified to vote? Or do you meet the criteria necessary to vote in the US? Asking about citizenship is like asking are you living in the US illegally?"

    Perfectly legal permanent residents/resident aliens are here legally and due to non citizenship status (whether by choice or because the process is a lengthy one) do not meet the necessary criteria to vote.

    I'm glad the question was omitted. The information gained is useless.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:38 pm |
  36. Sazzie

    OK – this isn't a citizen/illegal issue – it's not that cut and dried.

    What about legal permanent residents?? They pay taxes, contribute to their communities and are here perfectly legally. How do you differentiate them from the illegals if the only question you're asking is about citizenship???

    November 4, 2009 at 1:33 pm |
  37. nancy

    No no, if you ask that, a lot of folks won't bother to fill it out in fear of INS. The forms are already printed out. Would cost too much to add that dumb question anyway.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:30 pm |
  38. Victor

    It's disgusting to see so much xenophobia and ignorance in the responses. Not many people complaint about the race-based gerry-mandering that has taken place in our country for decades. Ignorance leads to xenophobia, xenophobia places this country in downward spiral.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:27 pm |
  39. Roxie

    A better question might be are you qualified to vote? Or do you meet the criteria necessary to vote in the US? Asking about citizenship is like asking are you living in the US illegally? Only a very few would admit to being here illegally. Social security numbers are meaningless as countless non-citizens have them.
    And please stop the "iberals are responsible for all of this" nonsense. Non-citizens have been living and working in this country for close to a century – have only Liberals been in contol for that period of time? FYI the answer is NO.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  40. John F

    Since Sen. Bitter is so "concerned" about the census, maybe he will address the component in the constitution dealing with what constitutes a "whole person". As for some comments, the subject of citizenry wasn't addressed in the Constitution back then. There were no definitions of what constituted a citizen and what did not except for the issue of dealing with slaves. Republicans need a scare tactic, and minorities are it. Also, if Republicans are so convinced the President is a socialist, why not move to impeach him?

    November 4, 2009 at 1:23 pm |
  41. Lisa

    Ted, while I consider myself a social "liberal:, I don't disagree with most of what you posted. I too think the question should be asked and that illegal aliens (they are NOT "immigrants" in the true sense of the word) should not be counted in our census nor receive ANY benefits from this country. But be fair – all you conservatives idol – Reagan – is the one that legalized 20 million illegals back in 88. W didn't want to stand up for legal Americans either (whether foreign born or not, LEGAL Americans) This, unfortunately, is not one party or the other – it's both. ALL our "representatives" are so cowardly and concerned with seeming racist they won't stand up and enforce our laws

    November 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  42. Ken

    Did anyone read the passage from the constitution? They included indentured servants AND slaves (3/5's compromise!) None of those people were citizens, yet they were counted for the purpose of reapportionment!

    November 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm |
  43. John

    You add question, but without validation, legal and illegal will all check US citizen. Illegals have no problem falsifying documents, after all they are here illegally.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:15 pm |
  44. Ridiculous

    So now discrimination is ok? Great, then let's put that right under "Are you heterosexual? That way we can kill two birds with one stone. Great thinking!

    November 4, 2009 at 1:11 pm |
  45. Eva Baumgart

    Are you a US Citizen? - Absolutely NOT.
    However, I am a LEGAL resident for 20 years, I speak English, and pay taxes like everyone else. I am not allowed to vote in either federal, state or district elections.
    When discussing this question, PLEASE discern between citizens, legal residents, and then illegals/undocumented. Not every non-citizen is automatically a criminal.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:10 pm |
  46. Corona

    Everyone posting on here seems to think one thing: non-citizen = illegal. Completely NOT the case. One can have a green card or a variety of visas and live LEGALLY in this country. The only difference between these non-citizens and citizens is they simply cannot vote. This is a legitimate question to add to the questionnaire if the results are used to make political decisions.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:03 pm |
  47. Marie

    I have a question for those of you that have posted. What is the difference between a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident, and an illegal resident? From the comments I've read it doesn't seem that the majority don't know the difference. Just jumping on any opportunity to bash immigrants.

    To put it simply, a U.S. citizen pays taxes and can vote. A permanent resident has the legal right to reside in the US, pays taxes, can serve in the armed forces, but cannot vote; and, has the right to eventually apply to become a US citizen. An illegal resident does not have the legal right to reside in the US. So, asking if you are a US Citizen alone is not a full representation of the population of the US.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  48. ekricket

    I think the story is a little misleading. The proposed amendment clearly speaks to reapportionment based on US citizenship.
    Simply asking the question on the census is a way of gathering data. How this data is used is a separate question.
    I would think that the government would want to know how many US citizens there are in addition to how many people are living in the US. If there is a disproportionally number of non US citizens living here then maybe some effort should be spent on getting them to be US citizens. Maybe we need another Representative or two that doesn't specifically represent a State, but rather represents non US citizens.

    November 4, 2009 at 1:02 pm |
  49. Wlliam

    I am amazed at the amount of people who are freakin out about this issue. Do you have nothing else in your world that this is something to be upset about. I know people are frightened by change but this is stupid.
    Let them ask we need an acurate or close to accurate account of who lives here.
    This is the problem with this country. We should pull together to make a stronger country and that seems to be the biggest challenge of all.
    You are all freaked out way to much of over a simple issue.
    Instead of pulling together it is just one more chance for some of you to find a reason to complain. Maybe this is the only way you feel like you count in the world is to yell loudly about nothing.
    Get a life get a dog get a personality... As for the whole english speaking conversation please recall that a large part of the people who made this great country could not speak english when they got here either. No i don't think people should come here without going through the proper channels. But it is no reason for us to act like we have no class. That is what i get about you who have written some of these comments. Grow up people have some self respect .

    November 4, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  50. Scott R

    Somehow during the late 1800s/early 1900s when this country was overrun by immigrants from both Europe and Asia, the U.S. census managed to continue without asking people if they were a citizen or not. So why do we suddenly have to do it now? There are illegal aliens in every state in the Union. Get over it.

    November 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm |
  51. MW in MD

    TO TED:

    I love it when whites try to spin slavery by saying we sold ourselves into slavery. WRONG! While there were instances where kings did sell their people into slavery, the vast majority were stolen from where they were captured. The bottom line – my ancestors did not come here by choice the way other immigrants – including YOUR ancestors, did. Stop ranting and do something constructive.

    November 4, 2009 at 12:36 pm |
  52. Bob Camp

    There are people here who are permanent residents. They aren't US Citizens, but they live here, pay taxes, collect social security, etc. What ever happened to banning "taxation without representation"?

    Also, you can't learn English overnight. It takes several years, and you never fully learn it as every once in a while you'll encounter a word or phrase you haven't come across before.

    Finally, if the question were put on the census, wouldn't people simply lie about it anyway? What's the point?

    November 4, 2009 at 12:31 pm |
  53. Scott

    I don't see anything wrong with asking the question, but is anyone naive enough to think those pushing it, did not want it 2 years ago?

    This did not just pop into someones head last week, they simply waited until it was too late, in order to maximize the amout of media coverage they could get.

    The request is not about representation in congress, its about fear mongering over immigration. The timing proves that.

    November 4, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  54. anna

    Jackie, those founders who wrote the constitution were illigally came to this country.

    November 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  55. ching

    As an Asian immigrant, we are suppose to be minority and we do not enjoy all the benefit the so call minority get. We do not ask for special benefit. We just want equal right and our right is not taken by other minority.
    We came legally with very little and work hard for what we have. I would like to see the true census of the total number of citizens, legal immigrants and illegals; so the government can make the right decision for managing the country.

    November 4, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  56. Leslie

    I think this is an important question that SHOULD be asked. I think it should be a mandatory question on the census.

    November 4, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  57. Warren

    I am a lawful permanent resident of the United States, I pay my taxes, and I am the potential benefactor of several general governmental services for which I pay for (Medicare, Social Security, Workers Compensation, etc.).

    Census results are used in many ways, much of which is used in accurately determining the cost of government services. If non-US citizens are excluded in the census, Federal, State and Local governments will be unable to accurately project the cost of certain programs, thus causing further financial mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.

    While I understand the animosity towards foreigners in the United States (I get it on a daily basis, generally in a joking manner), it's in the best interest of US citizens and Federal, State and Local governments to include foreigners in its census.

    November 4, 2009 at 10:29 am |
  58. kat

    Before going into this question, perhaps we should know what those 10 census questions are.
    Here they are, reworded for brevity:
    1. How many people live in this residence as of 4/1/2010?
    2. Any others staying here, not listed on question 1?
    3. Do you rent; occupy for free; own with current mortgage/loan; or own free and clear, no loan/mortgage?
    4. Your phone number (for clarifying answers, if needed)
    5. First and last name of each resident.
    6. Male or female?
    7. Person's age as of 4/1/2010 and date of birth.
    8. Are you Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin?
    9. What is your race?
    10. Does this person sometimes live/stay elsewhere (like college, shared custody, prison, military)

    Now, my take on this controversy is this-the Democrats want everyone counted so they can keep the numbers of state reps up in those areas with large illegal resident populations. Generally speaking, there are a lot of illegal residents in lower income class districts, they don't vote, but that doesn't matter, it just swells the population numbers and allows for redistricting, adding more reps. if need be, and all that goes with that.

    The Republicans want the number of illegal residents noted so they can counteract the Democrats by holding down the number of reps from these lowing income areas, which will lean towards being Democrats. How? Well, since illegal residents can't vote, they may think they can control districts by stressing that point.

    The illegal residents (and their advocates) are concerned that illegals may be rounded up. Yeah, if I were a law-breaker, I'd be concernd too.

    As a legal citizen and taxpayer, I want to know who's living in my country, state, neighborhood-what is the ratio? Where are my tax dollars going? Am I paying to help the poor citizens of MY country or those of another country who are here illegally? Welfare programs, school districts, emergency rooms, etc are strained by an excess of illegal residents in some areas. Quite frankly, if someone does not want to live in an area with high illegal populations, census data can help hem make an informed decision. If you can ask questions 8 and 9, why not ask if someone is a legal resident? Actually, why do we need questions 8 and 9? America is a melting pot, but you should be a legal citizen, that means arriving here LEGALLY. And if you didn't, we want to know where most of those people are.

    Finally, do I have to say it..... Homeland Security? Certainly most illegals are not a national security threat, but for the few who could be, it might be nice to have a heads up. Also, in case of a time of war, it would be nice to know just how many eligible citizens there are out there.

    So every group has their own reasons to have or not have that question included. I think, in the big picture, having that info/being informed is more beneficial than not. I say, include it.

    November 4, 2009 at 9:58 am |
  59. David

    Written by John (above)

    "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?"

    John, maybe it's time to start packing your non-resident bags and head back home! Better yet, maybe it's time the US government start enforcing law and deporting illegal ingrates like you. You are part of the problem.

    November 4, 2009 at 9:53 am |
  60. Maureen


    November 4, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  61. Mrs. CM from Harrison, OH

    ABSOLUTELY there should be something in the Constitution that we should question if the person is a U.S. Citizen. And, I do not agree that those who are just becoming a citizen should be allowed even though most intentions are meant for good. A person who is the citizen of the United States of America should be the ONLY person who is allowed to vote here in the USofA! I'm baffled to find that there is nothing in the Constitution stating this anyway! And as for the comment about not being able to ask if they can speak English or not is ABSURD! I can't agree more! People in America should speak ENGLISH as that is the native language our forefathers intended we speak! Though it can be broken language, it should still be spoken and no other person should be able to steal that right away! There are way too many illegals in our country taking jobs away from us here in the US. They are sending their money straight back to their people in their native country! WRONGO!!!!! That's probably the main reason our Country is going broke. I'm so ashamed that our Country has allowed such socialism and some communistic thinking to come into our Country we call America, the land of the FREE, after personally I have a cousin serving our Country in the Army, a cousin in the Marines (RANKED HIGH, I must add!) and my daddy, my grandfathers, and MANY other relatives who risked their lives to help keep this Country FREE!!! STOP ALL THIS JUNK OF TAKING OUR RIGHTS AWAY!!!! Start focusing on what is REALLY important – keeping illegals and terrorists (and their type of movements) out of this Country. Start implementing the law and follow through with the consequences (such as prison – no rights whatsoever, death penalty – where necessary, and stop allowing these people who are imprisoned to make a living and/or go to college to become "something.") MAKE THESE PEOPLE HAVE TO EARN AND WORK AT GETTING THEIR DEGREES AND SUCH AFTER THEY GET OUT OF PRISON!!!!! We're only causing our own heartaches here in America by allowing these things to go free. Those who break the laws of this Country deserve harsh consequences – if they did, there wouldn't be so much crime! I'm stopping here, because I can go on and on knowing how my rights as an American are going by the way-side while the ones who have not earned their rights take them from me!!! UGH!

    November 4, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  62. Revoltin' Development

    Years ago the census intelligentsia created questions such as how many flushing toilets are in your home... That's true!! Such questions were so annoying to citizens (we didn't have a lot of illegals then) that they either gave ridiculous answers to ALL questions or tossed the forms in the garbage. People were outraged and that type of questioning never happened again. This go-around people have been outraged at the antics of A.C.O.R.N. and have demanded that the organization be excluded from census gathering... and the census bureau obliged the citizens' demands. The next problem to be fixed is to ensure illegal aliens are not given respect due citizens and that they be excluded from the census. Including them would overpower the accurate distribution of representation, and illegally funnel government benefits to those communities. Funny how that word used to relate to American laws and justice but has been twisted to represent foreign people and foreigners' rights. We must learn to speak our own language again... English, or lose the meaning of its words.

    November 4, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  63. Pamela


    It infuriates me your husband is in trouble for asking the question: "Do you speak English?". It also infuriates me that on almost every recorded phone message when dialing, you are instructed: "For English, press 1." This is America, isn't it? And our native language is English, isn't it? So why doesn't the message assume you do speak English and the instruction state: "For Spanish, press 1."?

    And, the government is concerned with the cost of reprinting the census forms - why aren't they concerned about how much it costs to print everything you see in English AND in Spanish? It would be nice if our government would cater to it's own citizens for a change, instead of illegals.

    November 4, 2009 at 9:09 am |
  64. ralph

    Are you a U.S.citizen?Absolutely...That's a100 percent question.Also
    Representatives are supposed to represent us not illegals.Get it right in this country,once for all..

    November 4, 2009 at 9:05 am |
  65. Lori

    Only US Citizens should be counted in the census. Only those who are legal to vote in the US.

    November 4, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  66. Jennifer

    I agree witht he question of "Are you a Citizen?" We should get an idea of how many peope are illegal and how many people are legal in the USA. Illegal immigrants may not answer the question, or answer it untruhfully, or they may not even fill out the census form. In either way the question is needed on the form. As far as the money issue, well, lets take the money that is being used on programs that are not needed, like bailing out the big banks for mistakes that they should not have made.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  67. Kitti Durham

    Asking a question about citizenship is neither unconstitutional nor unusual as the U.S. census has been asking that question or a similar one as far back as 1870. The 1870 census asked whether the individual was a male citizen of the US 21 yrs of age or older (women didn't count then so the same question was not asked of them).

    The 1900, 1920 and 1930 census each asked 3 questions about citizenship, one of which was whether the person was naturalized.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:51 am |
  68. Revoltin' Development

    Debbie tells about injustice at Indiana University. Debbie, the University of ILLINOIS' top dog RECENTLY resigned as one of the guilty culprits in the incredible scandal involving preferential treatment of certain students. For years they had been accepting applicants who were unqualified or were of lesser intelligence and lower test scores, and denying access to others who were more qualified. All illegal, but that's Illinois, and certainly people who were denied access over the years, their families and friends, are focusing on a big cleanup. Those officials, like the Judges who unjustly sent young people to reform-type institutions and got mega-$ kickbacks, are guilty of destroying futures and lives of our AMERICAN children. The judges are going to jail, and so should the Univ of Illinois crooks. Sounds like what is going on at Indiana is also illegal and should be passed to a Constitutional Lawyer for review/consultation... in another state if possible. Sounds like some "officials" there are pushing their own agenda... are they friends of the Illinois crooks? Hope that you get a pack of lawyers to hound them. Good Luck, this should not be happening in our institutes of higher learning that we support with our money and entrust with our children’s' futures... it is anti-American and must be stopped. Just think, what kind of graduates has Illinois turned out to work in our courts, businesses, social institutions? Those grads KNOW they were "illegally" given access to the school, and would now be people used to getting what they want illegally. Trouble inflicted on us by the Univ of Illinois greedy idiots... and trouble brewed by the Univ of Indiana with their twisted judgments.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:41 am |
  69. Leo

    It's laughable to argue against including the citizenship question in the census questionnaire because it would be too costly. That's a minuscule red herring. Save the cost-worries argument when you report the health care debate – that is a relevant question.

    Reprint the questionnaire and include the question.

    November 4, 2009 at 8:40 am |
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