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An Accurate Census Benefits All (Editorial)

2 min read

Stipulated: People who want to move to the United States should seek to do so legally.

OK, now that that’s out of the way, we can go on the record as agreeing with officials in northwest Arkansas who were pleased that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration didn’t have a sound reason for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The ruling left open the possibility that the question might appear, but on Tuesday, the administration decided that it would go ahead and print the forms without the question.

“The demographics here are changing rapidly, and we know it,” Nelson Peacock, president of the Northwest Arkansas Council, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “If you’re going to embrace that change and fully account for it in your decisions, whether you’re in business or planning, you need an accurate picture of who you are. You can’t do that if there are people and you don’t know they’re here.”

The U.S. Constitution requires a count every 10 years of people who live in the United States — whatever their citizenship status. The count is needed to determine how many seats in the U.S. House of Representatives each state gets.

Foes of the citizenship question fear it would lead to an undercount of minority groups, particularly Hispanics. An undercount could hurt all Arkansans in a couple of ways — first, by understating their political significance and leaving them underrepresented in Congress, and second, by preventing them from benefiting from all the taxpayer-supported programs to which they’re entitled.

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said the question “would create an additional headwind against achieving a complete and accurate count,” adding, “An undercount will negatively impact the citizens of Springdale for the next 10 years.” And not just Springdale. All of Arkansas.

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