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.
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.”
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.”