United States Census Bureau is seeking state data for drivers’ license records that typically include citizenship data,alarming some civil rights advocates.
The two approaches, documented by The Associated Press, come amid President Trump efforts to make citizenship a key aspect of federal information-gathering in the run-up to the 2020 Census, despite this year’s US Supreme Court ruling that a specific citizenship question cannot be included in the 2020 Census questionnaire.
Civil rights advocates worry that the wider net being cast by the Trump administration for such information could chill Latino participation in the population count, which will determine how many congressional seats each state gets and guide the allocation of hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding. The results of the 2020 Census also will be used to redraw state and local electoral maps.
Experts caution that inaccuracies in state motor vehicle records also make them a poor choice for tracking citizenship, if that is the bureau’s goal.
After the Supreme Court ruling, Trump signed an executive order in July requiring the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, to collect records on citizenship from federal agencies and increase efforts “to obtain State administrative records concerning citizenship”.
The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators Said that most, if not all, states recently received requests for information including citizenship status, race, birthdates and addresses. The association has advised members to consult their privacy officers, and “each state is making their own determination how to respond”, spokeswoman Claire Jeffrey said
In Illinois, Secretary of State Jesse White denied the request.
“We, as a general rule, are not comfortable with giving out our data, certainly not in such a huge amount. That was the overriding concern,” said spokesman Dave Drucker.
Other states are weighing the options. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has received the request but has not responded, spokeswoman Beth Frady said.