Saturday, January 4, 2020

DHS to share administrative records on citizenship with census bureau

In his latest reportage on the census, Hansi Lo Wang of NPR reports that the Department of Homeland Security has agreed to share administrative records on citizenship with the Census Bureau.

DHS quietly announced the data-sharing agreement in a regulatory document posted on its website on December 27 pursuant to President Trump's executive order directing agencies to share information after courts blocked the Commerce Department from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. 

More takeaways from NPR:

  • According to the DHS document, which was first reported by Federal Computer Week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is sharing personal information about naturalized U.S. citizens and green card holders from records going back to as early as 1973.
  • More recent records dating to 2013 from Customs and Border Protection, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will provide the Census Bureau with data such as noncitizens' full names, birth dates, addresses, Social Security numbers and alien registration numbers. CBP is also sharing the travel histories of visitors to the U.S., including those who have overstayed their visas.
  • Federal law restricts the release of immigration records about survivors of human trafficking and of certain other crimes who have applied for special visas, as well as survivors of domestic abuse who have applied for immigration benefits under the Violence Against Women Act. Still, USCIS has asked for permission to release to the Census Bureau data about refugees and asylum-seekers, whose records generally cannot be shared without their consent or a waiver signed by the Homeland Security secretary.
  • The bureau plans to use the data it does receive to try to match the DHS records with those from other agencies about the same person. Each individual's records would then be used in a statistical model designed to produce anonymized estimates of U.S. citizens and noncitizens living in the country.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC are suing the administration over these methods, arguing that its data efforts are part of a conspiracy to stop Latino communities, noncitizens and other immigrants from receiving fair political representation.

Meanwhile, the administration has spent months trying to amass citizenship records from other federal agencies, including the State Department and the Social Security Administration, plus states.

For more context and analysis of the events in this blog post, look up the AALS recordings from today's session Implications of the 2020 Census for Traditionally Marginalized Communities (Moderator Rachel Moran, presentions on the census by Dale Ho, ACLU Voting Rights Director and counsel who argued the Commerce case in the Supreme Court and Justin Levitt, Loyola Law School Los Angeles ).


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