2020 Census

The census is mandated by Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution and takes place every 10 years. The data collected by the census determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and is also used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities.

A car decorated for the Parade of Counts
Alexandra Watts

This was supposed to be the year of the census. It still is, but it’s also the year of the coronavirus pandemic. That makes it harder for community advocates to hold in-person events and get people counted. 

U.S. Census Bureau

Members of North Carolina’s Latino community say those who are in the country illegally will be even more fearful of filling out the 2020 census after President Trump released a memo saying the census would exclude undocumented immigrants

Updated at 6:34 p.m. ET

President Trump released a memorandum Tuesday that calls for an unprecedented change to the constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the country — the exclusion of unauthorized immigrants from the numbers used to divide up seats in Congress among the states.

Updated 12:35 p.m. ET Tuesday

With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting plans for the ongoing 2020 census, the Trump administration is asking Congress to pass a law that would change major deadlines that determine the distribution of political representation and federal funding for the next decade.

After centuries of putting pen or pencil to paper, the U.S. government is getting ready to rely on digital screens and the cloud for its first-ever primarily online census.

Starting March 12, households across the country are expected to be able to participate in the once-a-decade national head count by going to my2020census.gov to complete the online census questionnaire, which is set to be open to the public through July 31.

The Department of Homeland Security has agreed to share certain government records from its databases to help the Census Bureau produce data about the U.S. citizenship status of every person living in the country.

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The U.S. Census Bureau revealed plans Friday to remove a question about citizenship from census forms that will be used for the upcoming head counts in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Asked why the change was made, the Census Bureau said in a written statement: "No citizenship question is to be included on the 2020 Census, this includes the Island Area censuses too."

U.S. Census Bureau

Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019

There's a lot at stake for Mecklenburg County and communities across North Carolina in next year's census, from political representation to billions of dollars in federal funds. Now that the fight over a citizenship question is over, what's being done to get a complete head count?

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The history of the U.S. census asking about people's citizenship status is complicated.

Many of the stops and starts have been unearthed as part of the legal battle over the decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

If the Trump administration gets its way, federal law will require this question to be asked of each person living in all of the country's households in 2020: "Is this person a citizen of the United States?" It's been close to 70 years since a citizenship question has been included among the census questions for every U.S. household.

In fact, the U.S. census has never before directly asked for the citizenship status of every person living in every household.

Updated April 25 at 5:28 p.m. ET

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court appear split along ideological lines on whether a citizenship question can be included on forms for the upcoming 2020 census.

Based on their questions during Tuesday's oral arguments at the high court, the justices appear ready to vote 5-4 to allow the Trump administration to add the hotly contested questions to forms for next year's national head count.

Early in the Trump administration, senior officials discussed bringing back a controversial question topic that has not been included in the census for all households since 1950 — U.S. citizenship status.

The policy idea became reality this March, when — against the recommendations of the Census Bureau — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross used his authority over the census and approved plans to add the question, "Is this person a citizen of the United States?"

Updated Nov. 2, 7:50 p.m. ET

The Supreme Court has refused to postpone the start of the first trial over the controversial citizenship question it added to the 2020 census.

Updated 7:55 p.m. ET Aug. 3

Officials at the U.S. Government Publishing Office botched the awarding of its single largest contract — the 2020 census printing contract — according to a memo from the federal agency's Office of the Inspector General.

"Our investigation revealed GPO did not do an adequate job of protecting the interests of the Government," concluded former Inspector General Michael Raponi, who authored the report obtained by NPR.

Updated at 10:53 p.m. ET

The legal fight against the citizenship question planned for the 2020 census is mounting with more lawsuits, including one filed Tuesday in San Francisco federal court on behalf of the city of San Jose, Calif., and Black Alliance for Just Immigration, a California-based immigrant rights group led by Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi.

JOSH STEIN

North Carolina is joining a group of 17 states in suing the Trump administration over a new question added to the Census that asks people whether they are U.S. citizens, Attorney General Josh Stein announced Tuesday.