Calif. Gov. Brown Wants to Ensure 'Every Californian Is Counted' for 2020 Census

Governor Creates Commission on Census Outreach

California Gov. Jerry Brown / Getty Images
April 16, 2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D.) is voicing opposition to the Trump administration's decision to include a citizenship status question on the 2020 federal census, and he is not taking any chances the census might result in his state losing billions in federal funding or decrease its congressional representation.

Brown signed an executive order Friday creating a 25 member commission to guide outreach efforts in preparation for the 2020 census, according to The Los Angeles Times. The governor's announcement comes as the Trump administration plans to move forward with its plan to include a citizenship status question on the federal census questionnaire.

The commission will outline engagement and outreach strategies, including multi-language advertising campaigns, to ensure as many Californians as possible, regardless of citizenship, participate in the decennial count. Brown's commission includes experts from the fields of media relations, civic engagement, LGBTQ advocacy, and business, amongst others.

"It is vitally important for California to do everything it can to ensure that every Californian is counted in the upcoming census," Brown said.

The commission is required to submit a report with its proposals and recommendations by October.

Brown and national Democrats have lambasted the president's efforts to include the question of citizenship status on the census, claiming its sole intention is to prevent illegal immigrants from being accurately counted.

The issue has potentially far-reaching consequences for California, which has the highest number of illegal immigrants, approximately 2.35 million, according to data compiled by the Pew Research Center in 2014. Illegal immigrants make up nearly 6 percent of California's total population, dwarfing the total number of estimated illegal immigrants in states like Texas (1.65 million), New York (775,000), and Florida (850,000).

Complicating matters is the fact that California's population growth has slowed, based on U.S. Census Bureau data. In 2017, the state's overall population grew at a rate of 0.7 percent, slightly higher than the year prior but still an overall decline since 2009. In comparison, California's population grew at an annual average rate of 2.4 percent in the 1980s and slightly over 1 percent during the first decade of the new Millenium.

Furthermore, California's net domestic migration numbers are at a deficit, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Nearly five million people moved to California from other states between 2007 and 2016, while almost six million left in the same time.

An undercounted illegal immigrant population and California's slowed growth rate could result in the state losing billions of dollars in federal funding. Currently, there are over 70 federal programs directly tied to population count. Those programs generated an estimated $76 billion for state coffers in the 2015 fiscal year, according to the Public Policy Institute of California

In March, California Attorney General Xavier Beccera (D.) filed a suit against the Trump administration to prevent citizenship status from appearing on official census forms, arguing its inclusion would be unconstitutional.

A citizenship question has historically been included on the census questionnaire–uniformly from 1890 through 1950, and after it largely disappeared on the 1960 version, on the long form census questionnaire from 1970 through 2000. The long form questionnaire was discontinued after 2000, and therefore, the citizenship question did not appear in 2010.