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Darren Soto leads opposition letter to Census question on citizenship

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and 22 other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus are expressing “strong opposition” to a new citizenship question proposed for the 2020 U.S. Census.

Soto, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s Taskforce on Voting and Civil Rights, sent a letter Monday — joined by other members — to the U.S. Department of Commerce Census Bureau, charging that the proposed question lacked adequate testing, appears to have been developed for political, discriminatory purposes and would instill fear among immigrant communities, potentially causing bad counts.

“We write in strong opposition to the addition of the citizenship question,” they declare.

All the caucus members are Democrats.

It’s the third time Soto and the caucus raised objections to the Census Bureau about the question.

The public comment period on the question ends Tuesday.

“We have grave concerns regarding the genesis of this question, particularly given that there is ongoing litigation as to whether this question was developed in a discriminatory manner or for a discriminatory purpose,” the members wrote, with Soto’s signature leading the letter. “We are further concerned that the addition of a citizenship question only serves to instill fear among immigrant communities, decrease participation, and negatively impact the outcome and accuracy of the 2020 Census.”

The letter lays out a narrative of involvement by politically-oriented individuals including former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in developing the question before it was formally introduced to the Census process. And the letter contends that the Census Bureau’s own chief scientist, John Abowd, warned that the question would harm the accuracy of the count.

The caucus members warned that the repercussions could include intimidating people into not participating or giving false information, leading to miscounts, which in turn could lead to improper allocations of federal funding, congressional seats and Electoral College delegates.

The other signatories include U.S. Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham, of New Mexico who chairs the caucus; Joaquin Castro of Texas; Ruben Gallego of Arizona; Pete Aguilar of California; Adriano Espaillat of New York; Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois; (IL-04); Raúl Grijalva of Arizona; Salud Carbajal of California; Nanette Diaz Barragán of California; Linda Sánchez of California; J. Luis Correa of California; Grace Napolitano of California; Lucille Roybal-Allard of California; Juan Vargas of California; Norma Torres of California; Tony Cárdenas of California; Jimmy Gomez of California; Filemon Vela of Texas; Nydia Velázquez of New York; Ruben Kihuen of Nevada; Congressman José Serrano of New York; and Congressman Vicente González of Texas.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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