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The Trump administration's decision to ask people about their citizenship in the 2020 Census set off worries that non-citizens will dodge the survey altogether, diluting political representation for states that tend to vote Democratic. (March 27) AP

Opinion: Putting a citizenship question on the Census might deter some residents from answering, robbing Arizona of needed money and political clout.

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President Donald Trump wants to use the U.S. Census to score political points, and it appears the U.S. Supreme Court might let him get a way with it.

The White House wants to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 Census, sparking a legal challenge from Democratic-leaning attorneys general who want to stop the Trump administration from seeking to use the Census data collection to find out who is in the country illegally.

Yet when the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments April 23, it appeared most justices had their minds made up, with the tone and questions starkly split among the court's five conservative and four liberal justices.

That's unfortunate.

Every person brings us cash, clout

Every 10 years, the U.S. government via the Census Bureau conducts an extensive survey of the country’s population.

It isn’t simply counting heads. The government gathers tons of data such as people’s income, home values, health-insurance coverage – you name it.

The wealth of information is then used to draw congressional political districts and to award an enormous amount of federal money to local entities for all sorts of programs and services.

Critics argue that asking for citizenship status would scare minorities in general and most certainly undocumented immigrants from answering the census survey.

Border states like Arizona, New Mexico, California and Texas have a large number of undocumented immigrants, who'd likely be afraid to participate in the Census if they're asked their legal status.  

Don’t like immigrants? Fine. But they won’t go away just because a segment of the population is against them.

It’s foolish for anyone to deliberately undercount the population. We need an accurate count for adequate political representation and for local governments to get their fair share of federal dollars.

Elvia Díaz is an editorial columnist for The Republic and azcentral. Reach her at 602-444-8606 or elvia.diaz@arizonarepublic.com. Follow her on Twitter, @elviadiaz1.

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