American Sociological Association

ASA Letter to Commerce Department Regarding Census Citizenship Question

January 5, 2018

Dear Secretary Ross:

I write today on behalf of the 12,000 members of the American Sociological Association, the nation’s largest professional association for teachers, scholars, and practitioners of sociology, to express deep concern about a request Ron Jarmin recently received from the Department of Justice to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. We strongly urge you to reject this proposal. 

Should such a proposal be favorably received, the integrity of the 2020 Census data will be fundamentally compromised.  Including a citizenship question is likely to keep some people from responding to the questionnaire and others from responding truthfully, thereby undermining the accuracy of the data.  In addition, there is no longer time to properly test a new question.  As you know, creation of the questionnaire is a complex process that requires years of evaluation.  With little time left before the 2020 launch, a new question could not be subject to standard rigorous testing, which would further undermine the quality of the data.   

Secretary Ross, the import of an accurate census cannot be overstated.  You sit in a position from which you can influence the state of our democracy.  An accurate census allows policy-makers in public, private, and non-profit sectors to make evidence-based decisions. We implore you to ensure that every effort is made to undertake this process with integrity.  Please do not include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. 

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this matter.


Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
President, American Sociological Association

Click here to download a copy of this letter.