Trump Stuns Allies With Final Decision On Census Citizenship Question

On Thursday, President Trump announced that he will no longer be seeking to add a question about a person’s citizenship on the 2020 census.

ABC News reports the move comes as a surprise to his allies because “as recently as Thursday morning, administration officials had repeatedly suggested the president would take executive action calling for the question be added to the census.” The report adds, “it was not immediately clear when and why the final decision was made not to move forward with that plan.”

And, via Axios:

Sources say Leonard Leo and other Federalist Society stalwarts were shocked and floored by  the decision. “What was the dance … all about if this was going to be the end result?” a conservative leader asked.

  • “A total waste of everyone’s time. … It’s certainly going to give people pause the next time one has to decide how far to stick one’s neck out.”
  • One GOP strategist called it a “punch in the gut.”

Despite his supporters seeing the move as a political loss, President Trump is still seeking to obtain the information he would otherwise get by adding the question to the 2020 census and is directing his entire administration towards gathering the information via a new method.

Trump signed an executive order instructing all departments to cooperate with the Commerce Department with any information they have regarding the citizenship status’ of people across the United States, the Washington Examiner reports.

“To achieve that goal, I have determined that it is imperative that all executive departments and agencies provide the Department the maximum assistance permissible, consistent with law, in determining the number of citizens and non-citizens in the country, including by providing any access that the Department may request to administrative records that may be useful in accomplishing that objective,” Trump said in the executive order.

“Trump issued the order after courts ruled against having the citizenship question on the 2020 census. The order was also issued to avoid delaying the census any longer,” the Washington Examiner reports.

Here’s more from the Washington Examiner:

In the order, Trump outlines which information will be sent by which federal agency:

  • Department of Homeland Security: National-level file of Lawful Permanent Residents, naturalizations, F1 and M1 nonimmigrant visas, national-level file of customs and border arrival/departure transaction data
  • Department of State: refugee and asylum visas, national-level passport application data
  • Social Security Administration: Master beneficiary records
  • Department of Health and Human Services: CMS Medicaid and CHIP Information System

Trump has instructed the Commerce Department to begin planning the administrative processes necessary to add the citizenship question to the census in 2030.

ABC News reports Attorney General William Barr was present with Trump for the announcement and took to the podium to defend the president’s decision to move forward with the new plan.

“There is simply no way to litigate these issues and obtain relief from the current injunctions in time to implement any new decision without jeopardizing our ability to carry out the census,” Barr said.

“But Barr also suggested, near the close of his remarks, that the administration would explore ways to potentially use the information collected from agencies to advise the congressional redistricting process, a move that would almost certainly generate a legal challenge from the same groups that brought lawsuits over the citizenship question,” ABC News adds.