When Commerce Secretary Ross announced that the Census Bureau will include a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census, he made a decision that will have a negative impact on residents of Illinois and in communities around this country. 

This unnecessary question is invasive and will raise concerns about the confidentiality of personal information in the upcoming census report. This intrusive question will cause participation in the census to plummet and an inaccurate Census report will have lasting consequences on all of our Illinois’ residents.  

In Illinois, our leaders rely on census data to allocate resources for public assistance programs including public safety planning and disaster response, education needs, hospitals, assistance for veterans and transportation. Our business developers use census data to make investment decisions that boost economic growth for Illinois. 

According to an article from the Chicago Tribune earlier this year, immigrants make up approximately 7 percent of the population in Illinois, 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. 

Losing congressional seats erodes a state’s political power, said Dick Simpson, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. 

“It means we are losing clout — whether that seat would be filled by a Democrat or a Republican.” 

It would mean fewer lawmakers sitting on committees that determine how the federal budget pie is divided.

The League of Women Voters of the La Grange Area (LWVLGA) calls on local, state and federal elected officials to speak out and oppose the citizenship question in the 2020 Census. We must send a strong message to Congress to reverse this decision and remove the citizenship question from the Census.  

The stakes are too high to allow this unnecessary question to derail the count.

League of Women Voters of the La Grange Area