Trump Digs In On Census Citizenship Question, Sparking Confusion And Court Activity

Saul Bowman
July 4, 2019

Trump had tweeted Tuesday night that he "asked the Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice to do whatever is necessary to bring this most vital of questions, and this very important case, to a successful conclusion".

President Donald Trump had said after the high court's decision last week that he would ask his attorneys about possibly delaying next spring's decennial census until the Supreme Court could revisit the matter.

The update came after President Trump tweeted Wednesday that previous government statements that the administration was backing down from its census citizenship fight were incorrect.

Secondly, yesterday the Secretary of Commerce confirmed that printing was moving forward without the question.

Just hours before that tweet, Secretary Wilbur Ross had announced that his department was going ahead with printing the census without the question.

The Supreme Court said in a 5-4 ruling in late June that the administration couldn't add the question, at least for the time being, claiming its reasoning for wanting to add the question was suspect.

Texas Representative Chip Roy, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told the president he should "ignore" any lawyers advising him and to move forward with previous plans to include a citizenship question-something that has not been on the census for almost 70 years. He also wrote a tweet on Tuesday indicating that the administration would continue to pursue the question.

The email read, "We can confirm that the decision has been made to print the 2020 Decennial Census questionnaire without a citizenship question, and that the printer has been instructed to begin the printing process". Supporters say the question allows for an accurate count of USA citizens while detractors argue the question would lead to illegal immigrants not filling out the census. "My focus, and that of the Bureau and the entire Department is to conduct a complete and accurate census", Ross said. Chief Justice Roberts called the Trump administration's explanation "contrived". In May, Abowd said the bureau was operating with the understanding that the administrative records needed to be assembled regardless of whether the courts allowed the question to be included.

A group of states including NY and immigrant rights organizations challenged the legality of the citizenship question. That would benefit non-Hispanic whites and help Trump's fellow Republicans gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures when new electoral district boundaries are drawn after the census, the critics said.

Mr. Trump had previously called for the census to be delayed, although the Constitution mandates that a count of the population be held every ten years.

The president has falsely suggested that the census is meant "to find out if somebody's a citizen as opposed to an illegal", when even the Census Bureau itself notes that it does not share information with law enforcement agencies.

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