The Battle Over Adding a Citizenship Question to Census
On July 11th, President Trump announced that he would no longer pursue adding a citizenship question on the 2020 census through the courts, and will instead rely on an executive order that would instruct the Commerce Department to obtain an estimate of U.S. citizenship through other means.
Announcing his plans at the White House’s Rose Garden, Trump said:
“I am hereby ordering every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and noncitizens in our country. They must furnish all legally accessible records in their possession immediately. We will utilize these vast federal databases to gain a full, complete, and accurate count of the noncitizen population.”
After the president made his announcement, Attorney General William Barr took the podium and congratulated him on the executive order. Although the administration is fighting three separate ongoing court cases regarding the citizenship question, Barr said he believed the government’s effort would have likely survived a legal review if brought back before the Supreme Court.
According to Barr, “There is simply no way to litigate these issues and obtain relief from the current injunctions in time to implement any new decision without jeopardizing our ability to carry out the census.”
In a response to the president’s announcement, Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said, “Trump’s attempt to weaponize the census ends not with a bang but a whimper. He lost in the Supreme Court, which saw through his lie about needing the question for the Voting Rights Act. It is clear he simply wanted to sow fear in immigrant communities and turbocharge Republican gerrymandering efforts by diluting the political influence of Latino communities.”
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