- The Washington Times - Monday, May 14, 2018

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday that nobody will be harmed by the administration’s decision to add a citizenship question on the 2020 census, saying the move doesn’t mean the “sky will fall.”

“It’s been asked every year on the American Community Survey in the exact same form that we’re planning to do in the census this year,” Mr. Ross said at the National Press Club in Washington. “Sixty-one million families have already been exposed to the question, and the sky has not fallen. So I don’t think the sky will fall when we add it to the census itself in 2020.”

He also said the citizenship question will appear as the very last one on the census form, “so that someone who, for whatever reason, feels uncomfortable with that question, at least they can deal easily with the questions with which they are not uncomfortable.”

Mr. Ross said the Commerce Department will spend about $500 million on advertising the census, in part to reassure people that their data can’t be used for immigration purposes.

“People do not need to worry that their privacy will be abused by the census,” Mr. Ross said.

He listed several steps that the department will take to help people who don’t speak English, including providing multilingual instructional material and call centers, and working with community groups to explain why it’s important for everyone to participate.

“We also are taking extreme measures for cybersecurity so that we can try to protect as best one can against intrusions there,” Mr. Ross said.

The administration announced in March that it would add the citizenship question, prompting objections from Democrats and civil rights groups. Seventeen states have sued Commerce and the Census Bureau over the change, asserting that the question would discourage immigrants to participate.

“It did draw lots of opposition,” Mr. Ross said. “It also drew lots of support. It’s not a novel question.”

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