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Despite Democrats' Fearmongering, There’s a Long Precedent for the Citizenship Question

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Michelle R. Smith

The hard left in America will stop at nothing to reshuffle all that we know to be true about America and the values we hold dear. The Betsy Ross flag, so celebrated as a symbol of freedom by Americans, is now racist.  Our brave and overworked agents on the southern border aren’t honored for saving the lives of men, women and children abandoned by human smugglers, but are accused of running ‘concentration camps.’  And now the most basic part of our national identity – citizenship – is under attack.


The evidence is mounting that Democrats want to reshape what “American” means.  They blind themselves to the many other countries that ask about citizenship, including Canada, Germany, Ireland and Mexico.  Even the United Nations recommends the practice.  But extremists want Americans to have open borders, force us to feel embarrassed of our history and have a president that goes on a global apology tour.

We tried that with Barack Obama.  No more.  Never again.

Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates have shown no shame in politicizing the decennial census.  They have claimed that asking about citizenship will scare those who may be here illegally from participating, giving Republicans an advantage in Congressional districts.  But if anyone is scaring people into not participating, it’s the Democrats. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said President Trump wants to “make America white again.”  Senator Kamala Harris tweeted that adding the citizenship question was an attempt to “weaponize” the census. Senator Cory Booker introduced a bill that would prohibit the government from asking about citizenship for districting purposes.  He claims that redistricting based on citizenship data will push communities of color “further into the shadows.” 


This rhetoric is dangerous and inaccurate.  It suggests that the census is only a tool to document those here illegally.  But the Census is not about immigration enforcement.  It is not, nor has ever been, a method for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to conduct mass deportations.  It is about you being here and the government needing to know in order to have an accurate count.

And there is a long precedent for asking census respondents about their citizenship.  For the majority of the 20th century, the question has appeared in some form on census materials.  The 2010 Census was the first to forego the question since 1960.

The scare tactics of Democratic leaders and would-be presidents do nothing but create racial tension and further divide our country.  The ‘us versus them’ strategy they have employed has propagated a growing wave of anti-American sentiment that is both alarming and tragic.  But maybe that’s what the Democrats want: a country that is divided and subdivided. Unity is their enemy, but it is our goal.  And we won’t give in or give up.

There is nothing nefarious about collecting basic population data as required by the U.S. Constitution. Asking about a person’s citizenship has served a legitimate query for decades.  Thanks to President Trump’s leadership, we’ll still get this data, but it will have to be cobbled together from government data already available.


Inquiring about citizenship isn’t unconstitutional and shouldn’t be controversial.  Countries all over the world gather this data with no conflict. There’s no reason why the United States should be any different. We only get one shot to count the population every 10 years and the results have far-reaching implications.  

President Trump is once again standing up for our country by using the authority we have entrusted him with to make sure we get it right in spite of what liberals and their microphones in the mainstream media seek to lead people to believe.   

Jim Renacci represented Ohio’s 16th Congressional District from 2011 to 2019.

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