Santa Clara County has filed a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act to find out whether or not the U.S. Census Bureau's 2020 Census will include a question regarding citizenship.
On Friday, the county's Office of the County Counsel filed to seek information on the possibility of residents being asked about their citizenship status, and if such a question is included, how each person's privacy will be protected, county officials said.
"It is our responsibility as a county to educate residents about the census," Supervisor Cindy Chavez said in a statement. "Everyone has a right to be counted so we can be fairly represented in Congress and receive federal funding for housing and transportation projects."
County officials believe that the federal government has been suggesting they may include a question on citizenship, which they say that experts emphasize could have a potential "dampening effect" on response rates in diverse areas like Santa Clara County.
"Because the census is critical to setting political representation at all levels of government, an accurate census is the bedrock of fair political representation," County Counsel James Williams said in a statement. "The Census Bureau must provide information on the steps that it will take to ensure that every person is counted fairly and response rates are not suppressed."
In the request itself, the Office of the County Counsel asked for expedited treatment because of "an urgency to inform the public about an actual or alleged federal government activity."
"Because the decennial census is imminent and public education campaigns must be conducted over long periods to be effective, the county must be able to provide accurate information to its residents as soon as possible," Williams wrote in the request.