But Commerce Department must finalize forms on time to limit extent of undercount 

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s decision to at least temporarily block a citizenship question from the 2020 Decennial Census preserves the health, welfare and rights of millions of children. But massive education efforts will be required to counteract the chilling effect of this case. 

“We are delighted that the court saw the citizenship question for what it is: a blatant attack on our nation’s immigrants and children,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the bipartisan children’s advocacy group First Focus on Children. “But a great deal of work lies ahead. Roughly a quarter of all children in this country have an immigrant parent. We must let those households know that they are safe to have themselves and their children counted.”

The Census already consistently undercounts children, missing more than one million in 2010. The publicity surrounding this case and the fear it instilled in immigrant families — the so-called “chilling effect” — threaten to exacerbate that undercount, especially of those already most likely to be missed: children under five, children in poverty, children who frequently relocate, children of color, and of course, children of immigrants. Accurate population numbers are necessary to ensure appropriate representation in Congress and at the state level, and fair funding of federal programs. 

Fully one-quarter of American children have an immigrant parent, and they represent the nation’s fastest growing group of kids. Of the roughly 5 million children living in homes with at least one undocumented parent, 80 percent are U.S. citizens.

Undercounting these and all other children will rob them of the support they need to become healthy, productive American adults. Census data guide the allocation of more than $800 billion in federal funding to programs that keep our most vulnerable children and families from falling into poverty. 

Like the impending deportation raids, proposals to deny millions of families access to critical public assistance, and detention of children in filth and squalor, the threat of the citizenship question was designed to frighten immigrant families and exclude them from our society. 

In order to ensure that every child is counted in the 2020 Census, we urge the Commerce Department to continue with its stated timeline for finalizing the Census forms and to move forward without delay.