How does housing segregation still take place decades after banning the laws that encouraged it? Aaron Glantz and Emmanuel Martinez poured through millions of public mortgage records to discover that redlining is ever-present in today's lending market — despite it being outlawed fifty years ago.

The two reporters found the issue widespread across American cities, especially in Philadelphia, where they did a deep dive into the institutionalized racism that prevents Black people and other people of color from obtaining loans. The findings in Glantz and Martinez' award-winning Reveal News series, Kept Out, are harrowing and uncover years of overlooked discriminatory practices.

Selden Ring Award winners Aaron Glantz and Emmanuel Martinez (Photos by: Rachel de Leon/Reveal)
Selden Ring Award winners Aaron Glantz and Emmanuel Martinez (Photos by: Rachel de Leon/Reveal)

On April 1, 2020, the next iteration of the US Census will take place, counting – or at least attempting to count – every person in the country. It occurs every ten years, collecting information on how many people are in the US and where they live. But 2020 has already started to become more controversial than previous iterations. That's in part because of a question that the US Department of Commerce has pushed to include.

The question is simply, "Is this person a citizen of the United States."

As James Christy, Assistant Director of Field Operations for the US Census Bureau, notes, the census is no more than a snapshot of the population, not intended to target specific individuals or families. But that hasn't dissuaded many critics of the question who argue that adding it will prompt fewer responses from immigrants and communities of color, which could have major implications for the way political power and federal funding are distributed over the next decade. Population data is used to determine how many congressional representatives a state receives as well as how district lines are drawn.

The Census Bureau has never inquired about the citizenship status of the entire population in it's 230-year history, though it has asked smaller segments at times.

The Supreme Court is currently reviewing whether it will allow the question to be added.

James Christy of the US Census Bureau speaking at USC on March 22, 2019
James Christy of the US Census Bureau speaking at USC on March 22, 2019

As a longtime member of the US Census Bureau, Christy shares his thoughts on the question, but also dives deeper into how the census has changed over time and how he is preparing for 2020. 2020 will be the first census in which the majority of census responses will be collected digitally, posing new and unique challenges to the count. A veteran of the Census Bureau, Christy has been involved in counting the population since the late 1980s. 2020 will be his fourth census and the 23rd census in US history. The first took place in 1790 under President Thomas Jefferson.

(US Census Bureau)
(US Census Bureau)