President Trump on Thursday announced he would abandon efforts to add the question “Is this person a citizen of the United States?” to the 2020 census, noting that continuing litigation over the matter would prevent officials from completing census forms on time.
“We’re not going to jeopardize our ability to carry out the census,” said AG William Barr. “So as a practical matter, the Supreme Court’s decision closed all paths.”
Hours before the announcement, Trump had threatened to use executive action to add the citizenship question to the census. Instead, he plans to issue an executive order forcing all federal agencies to give citizenship data to the Commerce Department. This new method of gathering data will be “far more accurate,” said Trump.
Like all of Trump’s proposals related to illegal immigration, the citizenship question had already been blocked by liberal courts. In June, the Supreme Court blocked the question based on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s failure to provide a “genuine” explanation for why they needed it in the first place.
Critics warned the question could have resulted in a lower response rate among noncitizens, thus producing inaccurate data. From a Democratic perspective, this would give Republicans an unfair advantage because most illegals vote Democrat.
The Trump Administration claimed the citizenship question would help determine how many illegals are living in the country. Initially, the Administration said the question would help protect minorities’ voting rights under the Voting Rights Act.
What’s really funny is that nobody seemed to notice when President Obama removed the citizenship question from the census. The question had appeared on the long-term survey until 2000 and on the short-form survey until 1950.
It was only an issue when Trump wanted to add it back on.
The reason all of this matters is because the census is used to determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives and affects how federal funds are distributed.
Next week, House Democrats will vote to hold Ross and Barr in contempt of Congress for ignoring subpoenas related to the citizenship question.
“I’m proud to be a citizen, you’re proud to be a citizen,” said Trump. “The only people that are not proud to be citizens are the ones who are fighting us all the way about the world ‘citizen.’”