* We’ve already talked about one way Illinois could lose two congressional seats after the next Census. The Tribune looks at another…
Illinois could lose political clout and federal funding if immigrants afraid of deportation in the Trump era sit out the 2020 census, experts say.
Officials with the U.S. Census Bureau are weighing whether to ask households across the country about their citizenship status, a move experts say could have a chilling effect on participation among immigrants. The fear is that the data, including home addresses, could lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to the doors of those living in the country without documentation. And even for those on their way to becoming naturalized citizens, the controversial question may keep them from raising their hands and being counted, especially as the immigration debate has taken sharp turns and left them uneasy about their future here.
In Illinois alone, immigrants make up about 7 percent of the state’s population, ranging from those on their way to becoming naturalized citizens to others living here illegally, said William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution. Illinois’ falling population means it’s already on the cusp of losing one representative, but if immigrants decide they don’t want to be counted, that could cost the state a total of two seats, Frey said. […]
Thomas Saenz, the president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said if a question about citizenship made it onto the 2020 census, the bureau could face legal challenges on the grounds that it would lead to an inaccurate count and thus not fulfill its constitutional mandate. That’s one of the reasons why Saenz said the request could be more political than rooted in an actual need.
“I’m not sure the DOJ is serious,” Saenz said. “This could be just a dog whistle to the far right that this administration often seems to feel the need to cater to. It could be a political message.”