Congress must reject xenophobic and unconstitutional attack on the Census today 


May 8, 2024

Editor’s note: the following statement was issued Wednesday, May 8 by Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition on Human Needs 

We at the Coalition on Human Needs strongly urge the House to reject H.R. 7109, an unconstitutional bill which would require the Census Bureau to ask about citizenship in the decennial census and apportion House seats only based on citizens.  

CHN’s 100+ member organizations understand the importance of accurate Census data, which ensures that federal funds for important human needs programs are allocated fairly across states. Census data informs the allocation of $2.8 trillion annually in federal assistance to states, local communities, and families for a range of needed services including Medicaid, child care, WIC, Title 1 funds for low-income schools, IDEA funding for special education, housing, and home heating and cooling aid (LIHEAP), among many others. We have long advocated for investments and policies to ensure the young children and other populations that are typically undercounted are fully represented in the census.  

This proposal, if enacted, would result in a massive undercount of immigrants in the U.S. census. By adding a citizenship question to the U.S. census, this would create an environment of fear for immigrant and mixed-status families, resulting in a massive undercount of immigrants in communities across the country, disproportionately low-income, ultimately impacting the allocation of $2.8 trillion in annual federal assistance. Most immigrants are lawfully present; all immigrants pay sales taxes and most also pay income taxes. If we exclude undocumented immigrants from the U.S. Census, we would risk excluding 5.5 million children who are U.S. citizens, but have at least one undocumented parent. These are just some of the reasons why 238 organizations joined CHN and our partners in opposing H.R. 7109 

At its core, H.R. 7109 is an attack on vulnerable communities and an attempt to undermine our nation’s democratic values and principles. The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution clearly states that the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives is based on a count of “the whole number of persons in each state.” The federal government has allocated seats in the House this way since 1868, consistent with the 14th Amendment.  

This legislation is nothing more than a xenophobic attack on immigrant communities that is also unconstitutional, and we strongly urge members of the U.S. House of Representatives to vote “no” on H.R. 7109.