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December 3, 2020

Why does the Trump administration want to change who is counted in the census?

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video featuring reporter John Yang and answer the discussion questions. A transcript of the video is available here

Summary:President Trump’s immigration policies and the U.S. census were back at the Supreme Court on Monday, November 30. The issues at stake in the case have the potential of shaping congressional and presidential politics for years to come.

  • The Supreme Court heard arguments about whether or not the Trump administration could exclude non-citizen or undocumented individuals residing in the U.S. from the census count, which is carried out every ten years.
  • The census is used to tally residents in the U.S. and determine how many people live in each state and county. Among other uses, the census helps the government decide how to allocate resources, including how many congressional representatives each state has based on resident population. It is also used to determine each state’s Electoral College votes.
  • The constitution has long been understood to require a count of all “residents,” not just citizens. The Trump administration has sought the right to exclude some residents from counts, including undocumented non-citizens.

Discussion:

Warm up questions: 

  1. What is the census and how does it work?
  2. Who is counted in the census, and who conducts the census?
  3. Why is the census important to states, cities and other communities?
  4. When and how often is the census carried out?
  5. How is the Trump administration trying to change how the census works?

Focus questions:

  1. Why do you think it’s important to get an accurate count of all people living in the United States?
  2. What do you think would change if only U.S. citizens were counted in the census?

Media literacy: Who would you want to hear from in a story like this to understand the real world impact of the census decision discussed?

 Additional resources: 

  • If you would like to know more about the 2020 census and its importance, check out this lesson.
  • The census is used partly to draw up congressional districts, with each district providing one congressperson to the U.S. House of Representatives. Who is in charge of deciding the borders of those districts and what is so-called “gerrymandering”? Found out in this lesson.

 


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