World, Americas

Trump backs down on citizenship question for US census

President announces executive order to determine number of citizens, noncitizens in country by other means

Umar Farooq   | 12.07.2019
Trump backs down on citizenship question for US census File photo

WASHINGTON

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday ended his battle to add a citizenship question to the country’s census questionnaire.

Trump instead announced an executive order which would direct all government agencies to provide the Commerce Department with data and records regarding the number of citizens and noncitizens in the U.S.

The president said it would allow for the ability to show how many citizens are in the country with 90% accuracy.

“It is essential that we have a clear breakdown of the number of citizens and noncitizens that make up the U.S. population,” he said at a news conference in the White House Rose Garden.

“We will leave no stone unturned.”

Trump called for the inclusion of a question that would ask respondents whether they are U.S. citizens or not in the upcoming census.

The fight to include the question has dragged on for weeks, with the Supreme Court sending the matter back to a lower court two weeks ago for further deliberations, raising doubts about whether the case would be resolved in time for the 2020 census.

In a 5-4 decision, the court questioned the administration's rationale for including the citizenship question in the census, calling it insufficient.

“We simply cannot complete the litigation in time to carry out the census,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said alongside Trump.

State, local and federal governments use the census data to properly allocate resources.

The federal government also uses the questionnaire, which is sent out every 10 years, to apportion state seats in the House of Representatives.

The census is overseen by the Commerce Department, which says the inclusion of such a question would help enforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Immigrant advocates had disputed the administration's rationale for the question's inclusion, arguing it would discourage some respondents from participating in the census and would therefore lead to an inaccurate headcount.

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