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Letter to the editor icon2

Letter to the editor icon2

Our representatives need to follow our Constitution.

Senator Daines and Representative Gianforte have both suggested that the decadal census should ask whether individuals are citizens or not (MT Standard 5/10/19 and 05/21/19). They argue that doing so would increase the likelihood that Montana would receive additional federal funds, and possibly an additional House seat. Their arguments explicitly use the reasoning that asking the question will discourage participation in the census in those states with higher percentages of immigrants than Montana. They are blatantly asking to encourage undercounting.

If they would read Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 of our Constitution they would see it directs that “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons”. Nowhere in our Constitution does it say that the census should only count citizens.

Those arguing for the “citizenship question” point out it has been asked previously. The fact is, about 60 years ago it was determined that asking the question caused undercounting, so the question was dropped in order for the census to be more correct. Senator Daines argues that “Montanans want to know” how many citizens are in the country. The fact is the American Community Survey provides accurate information on this.

Keep the citizenship question out of the census. Keep the census accurate and not a political weapon.

Larry and Debbie Smith, Butte

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