The Commerce Department will add a citizenship question to the 2010 census. Many critics suspect that the move is an effort to discourage noncitizens from responding
, thereby reducing the voting power of areas with large numbers of immigrants
. NPR reports
"This is a question that's been included in every census since 1965," [Trump press secretary Sarah] Sanders said Tuesday, "with the exception of 2010, when it was removed."
The last time a census form sent to most American households asked a question about U.S. citizenship was in 1950. That form asked where each person was born and in a follow-up question asked, "If foreign born — Is he naturalized?"
In 1960, there was no such question about citizenship, only about place of birth.
Sanders mentioned the year 1965 on Tuesday, but the census only comes every 10 years, so it isn't clear what she was referring to, and the White House did not respond to a request for clarification.
In 1970, the Census Bureau began sending around two questionnaires: a short-form questionnaire to gather basic population information and a long form that asked detailed questions about everything from household income to plumbing. The short form went to most households in America. The long form was sent to a much smaller sample of households, 1 in 6. Most people didn't get it.
Starting in 1970, questions about citizenship were included in the long-form questionnaire but not the short form. For instance, in 2000, those who received the long form were asked, "Is this person a CITIZEN of the United States?"
The short form kept it simple: name, relationship, age, sex, Hispanic origin, race, marital status and whether the home is owned or rented.
In 1996, the census added a new survey, the American Community Survey, conducted every year and sent to 3.5 million households. It asks many of the same questions as the census long-form surveys from 1970 to 2000, including the citizenship question.
Sanders said that in 2010 the citizenship question was removed. In fact, there was no long form that year — it had been replaced by the annual American Community Survey. The decennial census form asked just 10 questions.