The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted on Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress after they refused to hand over documents regarding the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The panel voted 24-15 to allow Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) to file a lawsuit that would enforce the House’s subpoenas of documents relevant to the inclusion of a question asking if census respondents are U.S. citizens. The Democrats have been asking for this information for weeks in an attempt to discern whether or not there was malicious intent behind the addition of the question. White House officials have refused, with President Donald Trump instructing his allies not to comply with any requests that the House might make. Citing executive privilege, which allows a sitting president to withhold information from the public as they choose, Trump told Barr and Ross not to listen to the Oversight Committee. Now that officials are refusing to comply with subpoena power, the House is attempting to go through the judicial system instead of the legislative branch.


The Trump administration adamantly denies any ulterior motives in their addition of the citizenship question, but their refusal to turn over information about the reasoning behind their decision makes their claims incredibly suspect. Many on the left wonder why Trump is so unwilling to provide information to the Democrats if that information should contain no evidence of wrongdoing.

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Many Democrats, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) believe that the inclusion of the citizenship question is an attempt to give Republicans a political edge for the next ten years by suppressing the true number of people who live in traditionally Democratic areas.

Analysts predict that asking respondents about their citizenship will spook those who are undocumented or those who live with undocumented persons into not filling out the census altogether. Since most immigrants live in urban areas that typically support Democrats, if the population of those regions is artificially lowered by reducing the number of undocumented/immigrant respondents there, then those states will have reduced numbers of representatives, fewer Electoral College votes, and less federal funding. This strategy is similar to gerrymandering in that it is a desperate attempt by Republicans to rig the system in their favor to compensate for the popularity of Democrats among the growing number of minorities, immigrants, and young people who live in the nation.

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