Why tech cares about the Census

A magnifying glass looking at the census
A magnifying glass looking at the census

Why tech cares about the Census

The industry has joined Democrats in vocal opposition to the Census 2020 question.
April 24, 2019

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case deciding whether the Trump administration will be able to ask people whether they are U.S. citizens in the 2020 Census. The case has roots in New York: It began when a U.S. District Court banned the Department of Commerce from adding the citizenship question, finding that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross violated an act that governs the development of new regulations. The Supreme Court case will eventually decide whether that ruling should be upheld, as well as whether the proposed question is even constitutional.

While Democrats predictably lined up against the citizenship question, arguing that it would discourage legal and unauthorized immigrants from filling out the Census, another cohort was also quick to speak out against the question. The tech industry has been vocal in opposing the question, saying it would mess up Census counts, which companies like Uber, Lyft, and Postmates rely on for their services.

The tech sector is also dependent on highly skilled foreign workers, and there is a fear that the proposed question would send a harmful message. “A citizenship question wouldn’t just discourage responses and lead to undercounting; it would also send a message that immigrants are not welcome in our society,” Julie Samuels, executive director of Tech:NYC said in a statement. “The United States and New York have always been top destinations for creators from across the world, which is why the tech sector stands with immigrants and for policies that continue to attract talent from abroad.”

For the rest of today's tech news, head over to First Read Tech.

Annie McDonough
is a tech and policy reporter at City & State.