Officials with the State of New México confirmed they will not comply with a voluntary request by the U.S. Census Bureau to access driver’s license records to obtain citizenship information.
The following is a reaction by James Povijua, Policy Director for Center for Civic Policy –the non-profit sector leader in ensuring an accurate 2020 Census count in New México:
“Today [October 25], the Center for Civic Policy applauds the decision by the State of New México to deny access to driver’s license records for the sole purpose of obtaining citizenship information.
“As we inch closer to the beginning of the 2020 Census count, it is vital to reassure and make it clear that the information of all New Mexicans is being safeguarded and will not be shared for any reason. Any attempt to access information about the residents of our state is a distraction to the arduous work that is being carried out to ensure an accurate decennial population count.
“We only get one chance to get the census count right every ten years, which will determine whether our families and communities will get their fair share of funding and political representation to succeed for a decade to come. It is up to us to ensure that our friends and family know the facts and are not deterred from participating in the 2020 Census.”
Background on U.S. Census Bureau’s recent state data sharing agreement:
“As we inch closer to the beginning of the 2020 Census count, it is vital to reassure and make it clear that the information of all New Mexicans is being safeguarded and will not be shared for any reason.”
James Povijua, Center for Civic Policy
The recent requests are in response to an executive order issued by President Trump in July 2019 after the citizenship question was removed from the 2020 Census. The Trump administration directed the Census Bureau to compile federal and, where possible, state administrative records to produce data on citizens and noncitizens.
This is a voluntary request of states to participate in a one-way data sharing agreement with the Census Bureau. Not all states are complying with this request for driver’s license records (e.g., Maine, Illinois), and the Census Bureau still has to assess the quality and consistency of the data.
MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) have filed a legal challenge to the executive order.
A few important 2020 Census things to remember:
-The citizenship question will not be on the 2020 Census form.
-All data collected by the Census Bureau (including data collected via administrative record sharing agreements) are confidential and protected under federal law.
-The Census Bureau is not allowed to release individual data or personal responses to anyone, for any purpose — including to other government agencies or law enforcement.
-Responding to the census will help ensure that our communities get our fair share of federal funds for programs like Medicaid, SNAP, Head Start, unemployment benefits, Section 8 housing vouchers, programs for seniors and veterans with disabilities, and school lunch programs. It also helps ensure that our communities have fair political representation, and enough money to build roads, hospitals, and schools.
Based in Albuquerque, New México, the Center for Civic Policy (CCP), is a nonpartisan tax-exempt 501c3 organization, works to amplify the voices of New Mexicans in policy decisions that affect their lives and to hold NM officials accountable–achieving the kind of change that builds thriving New México families.
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