Trump Tries To Add Citizenship Question To Census After Commerce Dept. Annouces It Has Been Dropped
Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross announced on Tuesday that the Census will be printed without the citizenship question on it, dealing a major defeat to the Trump administration. On Wednesday, however, President Donald Trump contradicted his administration by tweeting that he is “absolutely moving forward” with the question.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ross said that while he didn’t agree with the Supreme Court on their decision to strike down the question asking about respondent’s citizenship, he would respect their ruling. “The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question,” he said. “My focus, and that of the Bureau and the entire Department is to conduct a complete and accurate census.” The Commerce Department had previously said that they needed to begin printing the forms by July 1 to adequately prepare for the April 2020 survey.
The day after Ross’ announcement, the president posted a tweet contradicting the words of his cabinet member. “The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!” Trump wrote. “We are absolutely moving forwards, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.” It remains to be seen whether he will force Ross to reverse his decision or not.
The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE! We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019
The year-long battle over the inclusion of the citizenship question came to a head last week when the Supreme Court ruled that the Commerce Department’s reason for including the query, to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, was inadequate and “contrived.” Immediately after the court announced its decision, the president vowed to continue pushing for the question to be added. He even considered delaying the census, a move which caused outrage among the legal community.
The ruling of the Supreme Court and Ross’ subsequent decision to give up on the question were major victories for the Democrats, as the inclusion of a citizenship question was sure to hurt their party. Scholars agreed that if respondents were asked if they were a legal resident of the United States then many undocumented immigrants would be afraid of completing the Census at all, and places with high numbers of undocumented immigrants would have their populations undercounted. As the census results decide how states get representatives and federal funding, urban areas, which are usually Democratic bastions, would be underrepresented and underfunded because of the citizenship question.
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