Protect the Census: Oppose the Vitter Amendment

Media 06.21,16

Recipient: U.S. Senate

View the PDF of this letter here.

Dear Senator:

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, we urge you to oppose the Vitter amendment (Amendment # 4687) to the FY2017 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (S. 2837). This amendment would prohibit the use of funds by the Census Bureau for the 2020 Census unless it includes questions regarding U.S. citizenship and immigration status.

The Leadership Conference believes that an accurate census count is a vital civil rights objective and is deeply committed to ensuring that the Census Bureau provides our nation with the most accurate population count. The Vitter amendment is a thinly veiled attempt to exclude noncitizens and/or undocumented residents from the census counts used for congressional apportionment. It is an assault on our Constitution and will cause unnecessary confusion and delay.

The 14th Amendment to the Constitution clearly states that the apportionment of members of the House of Representatives is based on a full count of residents in each state. This amendment was enacted in part to repeal the provisions of Article I in the Constitution, which counted a slave as only three-fifths of a person for apportionment purposes. The Vitter amendment evokes this shameful legacy.

The Vitter amendment will intimidate individuals from participating in the Census. Asking about immigration status in the 2020 census is unnecessarily intrusive and will raise concerns among all respondents – both native-born and immigrant – about the confidentiality and privacy of information provided to the government.  This will deter many residents from responding, and result in an inaccurate Census count.  

For these reasons, we urge you to oppose the Vitter amendment. If you have any questions, please contact Corrine Yu, Managing Policy Director, at (202) 466-5670.


Wade Henderson
President & CEO

Nancy Zirkin
Executive Vice President