Yes, it is deeply disturbing. The integrity of our democracy depends on the accuracy of the census and that, in turn, depends on the willing participation of Americans. If we start including questions in the census that ask people to “fess up” about something that could be considered a “strike against them,” no matter what that might be, then Americans are going to start slamming their doors in the census takers’ faces.
Once the census bureau adds a self-incriminating question like “are you in the country illegally?” (which is basically what the “citizenship question” is aimed at finding out), that opens the flood gates to other questions like “have you ever been arrested?”, “do you have a criminal record?”, “have you declared bankruptcy?”, etc., etc. Even people who would answer “no” to all of these questions are going to become very suspicious of the census process and are going to stop cooperating – this will make the census a farce and open it up to political manipulation so that the results will unfairly favor one party or the other.
What’s also disturbing is that Trump’s first choice to head the census was a guy who wrote a book subtitled “Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America” – his research into how to “game” redistricting efforts was used by the GOP to implement the shameful gerrymandering that is helping keep them in power. Although public outcry forced Trump to abandon this choice, he clearly played his hand, showing he has every intention of politicizing the census to benefit the Republicans.
And one last thing to consider: Wilbur Ross, who is forcing the addition of the citizenship question, is up to his eyeballs along with Trump in the Russia scandal. Make of that what you will.