Peters stresses need for accurate census count as Trump backs away from citizenship question

    President Donald J. Trump, Tuesday, June 25, 2019, in the Oval Office of the White House. | Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr Public Domain

    U.S. Sen. Gary Peters says he’s “pleased” that the President Trump administration appears to finally be abandoning a plan to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census, but the Bloomfield Township Democrat stressed this week the need for an accurate count.

    The U.S. Supreme Court last month delayed implementation on the citizenship question, prompting a confusing scramble from the Trump administration over the last weeks.

    Experts have warned that including the question could undercount people, especially vulnerable groups like immigrants who already are on high alert because of the administration’s planned raids and deportation threats.

    “You’ve got substantial federal resources that come to states as a result of the count. You’re talking about the very core aspects of our democracy when it comes to representation,” Peters, who’s the ranking member on the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told Chris Hayes on MSNBC.

    “Experts who deal with the census every day — those that have testified before my committee — were concerned about the undercount. In fact, the economists at the Census Bureau themselves thought you’d probably have several million folks not counted, probably 9 million people or more.”

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    Following his retreat, Trump issued an executive order directing the U.S. Commerce Department to gather citizenship information from government agencies.

    “I’m not sure what he’s going to do, but that raises a whole host of issues related to privacy, security of that data,” Peters said. “And some of that data was given to agencies for one purpose and it may be transferred to another purpose. And that’s certainly something that the American people didn’t bargain for.”

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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