The Trump administration ruffled some feathers late last month when it announced it would include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census. Democrats say the question will deter people from responding to the census for fear of deportation. Republicans were quick to hit back.
"They are now mad that our census, which for years and years and years, decades, has asked, 'Are you a citizen of the United States of America?'" Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a radio interview two days later.
The claim that the census has been asking a citizenship question for years and years and years is mostly true, but it doesn't give the full picture.
From 1820 to 1950, almost every census asked about citizenship in some fashion. But the last time every household was asked the citizenship question was 1950. From 1970 to 2000, two different census questionnaires were used. One asked about citizenship; the other — the one most people got — didn't.
The 2010 census didn't ask the question at all. The Commerce Department says asking the question will help it better enforce the Voting Rights Act, specifically the provision that protects voting rights for minorities.