President Donald Trump gave up on his proposition to add a question about citizenship on the 2020 census, instead relying on existing federal records to collect citizenship data.
What We Know:
- Trump faced intense pushback when he proposed a question about citizenship being added to the 2020 census as an effort to collect a complete count of the non-citizens. The fight for the census question began last year when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced his decision to add the citizenship question to the census, claiming it was an effort to help the Justice Department better enforce the Voting Rights Act and better protect minority voters’ rights.
- Liberal members of the Supreme Court have since worked to block the citizenship question based on Ross’ failure to justify the necessity of the question. The Supreme Court ruled against the question Thursday despite expectations that they would uphold the citizenship question. The Trump administration can propose the question again given they can provide more genuine reasons for its enforcement.
- A citizenship question has not been included on the survey given to all respondents since 1950 and was only included on the long-form survey given to a smaller number of respondents, which no longer exists, from 1960 to 2000.
- The census is meant to count every individual residing in the United States regardless of citizenship; This data helps determine how many seats a state gets in the House of Representatives and allocates federal funding. The citizenship question is believed to exist to skew census results and limit political representation for minorities because it would discourage immigrants from answering the census.
- Trump gave up on the issue after a long battle explaining that the continued litigation over the census question would interfere with the new census forms being completed in time to be sent out, but he said this missed opportunity is “deeply regrettable.” He has pushed for the Census question and will likely continue working to reinstate it.
- In its place, Trump announced yesterday that he issued an executive order requiring every federal department and agency to provide the Department of Commerce with citizenship data. These departments, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration, must now compile all relevant data to provide the federal government with a “full, complete and accurate account of the non-citizen population.”
Trump’s surrender is considered a surprising victory for opposers as he could have made efforts to push back the spring 2020 census deadline, which would have taken “extraordinary effort” and a far longer legal battle.