Yeah, yeah, it’s illegal to knowingly lie when you fill out the Census. I know that which is why I am expressly saying, right now, that I’m JOKING, you guys! I would NEVER lie on my census form.

But it’s not illegal to think about it.

It all has to do with the Trump administrations antics in 2019 in which they postured the idea of having a citizenship question on the 2020 census. The Supreme Court shot it down in July of 2019 but the Trumpites were still trying to wriggle it in as late as November 2019. In my opinion, this was never about actually GETTING the citizenship question on the census. It was, as in the case of almost everything Trump tries to do, all about sowing confusion, discord and fear.

The every-ten-years census is supposed to be about getting an accurate count of all the PEOPLE residing in the United States. That’s why citizens, non-citizens and, yes, even people illegally in the country are encouraged…nay, implored…to take part in the census. An under-count can result in less funding for infrastructure, schools and public health services. That’s why for the previous two census cycles that I’ve lived in El Paso for we in the media have been asked to help get out the word: even if your status is illegal, participate in the census and we pinky-promise, cross our hearts swear that it won’t be used against you. It’s really been an uphill battle and I still feel that El Paso has a substantial number of “residents” that go uncounted every 10 years. And, I think this proposed citizenship question was intentionally meant to muddy the waters. Just the talk about having such a question has likely put many, many people off of participating in the census. And, I think, not just illegal aliens. Maybe people who have some kind of legal status but don’t want to take any chances with “you-know-who” calling the shots. Also, people…native born citizens even, who have undocumented family in the US might think twice about participating.

So, in some measure, I think the damage of a citizenship question has already been done. Border communities like El Paso will be under-counted and we’ll get short-changed like we always have.

That is why I am (hypothetically) thinking about lying on the census. Who’s to say I don’t have an extra family living in the basement of my home, “Parasite”-style? It’s not like I’m really creating fake people. I’m just making up for real people who fell victim to the scare-tactics of this administration.

But…and I’m just asking rhetorically…what is the actual punishment for fibbing on the census? Is it jail time? How much time? Would it be in a real jail or one of those cushy jails for rich people that has tennis courts? Is there any scenario in which I may end up sharing a cell with Roger Stone, Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort or any other former member of Trump’s inner circle? Because that might be a real deal breaker.