November 20, 2018
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U.S. Census Bureau Needs Confidentiality to Fulfill Constitutional Mandate of Counting Every Person in Nation
Calling into question confidentiality of information collected by census raises serious concerns over motivations behind addition of citizenship question
Washington, D.C. – The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund today issued a statement from Chief Executive Officer Arturo Vargas on the U.S. Department of Justice declining to take a firm stance on whether the U.S. Census Bureau could be required to disclose confidential individual responses:
“In order for the U.S. Census Bureau to fulfill its constitutional mandate of counting every person in the nation, the confidentiality of the information it collects from individuals must be sacrosanct. Title 13 of the U.S. Code makes it crystal clear that the personal information collected cannot be shared with any person or agency outside the U.S. Census Bureau.
“By even suggesting that the confidentiality of census responses is not guaranteed, the Trump Administration and U.S. Department of Justice have put the success of our upcoming decennial count in serious jeopardy and raised even more questions about the political motivations behind the addition of a citizenship question.
“The U.S. Census Bureau relies on the trust of all Americans to do its job effectively. With faith and confidence in the government at an all-time low among the nation’s second largest population group, the absence of a firm guarantee that private information will not be shared with other government agencies could result in millions of Latinos and other Americans sitting out Census 2020.
“Make no mistake, an inaccurate count of Latinos would mean a failed Census 2020 for the country. Given the importance of Census 2020 in distributing billions of dollars in federal funding and the allocation of political power to communities across the country, we cannot afford to have reckless and irresponsible threats fanning flames of distrust at a time when the Census Bureau already faces an uphill battle to count all persons.
“Confidentiality is at the heart of the U.S. Census Bureau’s mission. Without this fundamental building block, the entire integrity of the Census 2020 operation would collapse. We will not stand for this attack on our democracy to move forward and will vehemently fight any effort to thwart a full count of Latinos and all Americans by undermining the confidentiality of census responses both now and in the future.”
NALEO Educational Fund is the nation’s leading non-profit, non-partisan organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.