Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines on Wednesday introduced a bill to add a question about citizenship to the federal census in 2020.
"This is America," Daines said in a statement. "We’re a sovereign nation. It’s absurd we don’t know how many citizens and non-citizens are living in this country."
Daines’ bill would require a checkbox for respondents to indicate whether they are citizens or nationals of the U.S.
His bill comes as the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether the Trump Administration can add a citizenship question to the nations’ decennial headcount. The administration argues it needs more citizenship data to better enforce the federal Voting Rights Act.
Some say adding the question would lead fewer people to respond, which would impact the census’ accuracy.
The census is conducted every ten years and determines Congressional representation and distribution of federal funds. A question about citizenship or naturalization for all or selective respondents has been part of the census off and on since 1820.