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News / Nation & World

Celebrities, civil rights groups form coalition on census

By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press
Published: March 30, 2020, 9:52am

ORLANDO, Fla. — Civil rights groups, lawmakers, attorney generals, former Census Bureau directors, former Commerce Department secretaries and actors like Rita Moreno and George Takei said Monday they were forming a coalition to monitor and protect the confidentiality of the 2020 census.

The goals of the coalition of 275 groups and individuals are to monitor and stop any breaches of confidentiality in the data from the 2020 census. Federal law has strong protections against the release of any personal information from the census, but with distrust of the federal government growing over the years, an outside coalition is needed to reassure the public any problems are being monitored, organizers said.

The failed effort by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census questionnaire also raised suspicions about the confidentiality of the census data among immigrants and minority groups, organizers said.

“I don’t anticipate a breach but really the pledge is an effort to reassure the general public who doesn’t have an awareness about how strong census privacy laws are,” said Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “There’s nothing wrong with having a watchdog on the outside.