Historically, the United States Census has been extremely controversial. Indeed, the Anti-Defamation League identified the following as a few Census controversies centered around the application of the Census: whether to count enslaved/indigenous people (and how), provision of information on the residences of Japanese American citizens to the U.S. Secret Service during World War II, denying women the designation 'head of household,' and disagreement about how to address undercounting. 

The following headlines highlight some controversies:

  1. How Removing Unauthorized Citizens from the Census Could Affect House Reapportionment. The Pew Research Center highlights the fact that California would lose two seats, Florida would only gain one seat, Texas would only gain one seat, while Alabama, Minnesota, and Ohio would each gain an additional seat in the House if undocumented immigrants are not counted in the census. 

  2. The Census and Slavery. Why We Count People and Not Citizens. The Chicago Sun Times explores citizenship and the Census starting with slavery, specifically the role of the 3/5ths compromise in apportionment. The 3/5ths compromise allowed for slaves, who were not citizens, to still count in the distribution of seats in the House of Representatives.

  3. Who is No. 1? Whoever fills out the paperwork first. AP News explores the traditionally contested role of women and gender through the Census. In particular, it focuses on who is the head of the household and how that shifted over time.

  4. Yes, the Census Bureau Helped Make the Japanese Internment Possible. The LAist, an LA newspaper, explores the use of the Census to facilitate the internment of Japanese Americans and how that violated the privacy guarantees of the Census at that time, as well as the current protections enacted after this period and other privacy concerns.

  5. Census 2000: You Can Count On This Fight to Get UglyBloomberg News explores the issues faced by the Census in ensuring an accurate count, after failing to count 1.6% of the population in 1990. Black voters were particularly undercounted.

  6. Census Bureau will count incarcerated people in the wrong place once again in 2020 Census, continues to distort democracy. The Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit, states that by counting incarcerated people where they are in prison rather than where they had previously resided, creates a disproportionate impact for communities who rely on the figures for post-incarceration reasons. 

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