US President Donald Trump announced Thursday he would drop efforts to include a citizenship question on the official 2020 census but issued an executive order to obtain data specific to citizenship and non-citizenship status for those living in the US by alternative means.
The US Supreme Court ruled in June that while the government is not inherently barred from including a citizenship question on the constitutionally mandated census, the government failed to give a reasonable explanation for the inclusion of the question. Less than a week later, the Department of Justice said it would explore new ways to ask the controversial question.
Trump said Thursday his administration would find another way outside of the census to collect the data.
In a Rose Garden press conference, Trump said, “as a result of today’s executive order, we will be able to ensure the 2020 Census generates an accurate count of how many citizens, non-citizens, and illegal aliens are in the United States of America. … This will greatly inform a wide array of public policy decisions. This information is also relevant to administering our elections. Some states may want to draw state and local legislative districts based upon the voter-eligible population.”
Attorney General William Barr added that the legal hurdles to obtaining the additional question by the 2020 were because of time constraints—not constitutional ones.
“The Supreme Court’s decision closed all paths to adding the question to the 2020 census. Put simply, it was a logistical impediment, not a legal one. We simply cannot complete the litigation in time to carry out the census,” he said.