Trump administration working holiday to resolve census question

By Jonna Lorenz
Police stand guard before the arrival of visitors at the Supreme Court, for its final day in session, on Capitol Hill, June 27 in Washington, DC. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Police stand guard before the arrival of visitors at the Supreme Court, for its final day in session, on Capitol Hill, June 27 in Washington, DC. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

July 4 (UPI) -- The Trump administration is working to determine a way to include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census after a federal judge gave them until 2 p.m. Friday to resolve the issue.

President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday that officials were working through the holiday.


"So important for our Country that the very simple and basic 'Are you a Citizen of the United States?' question be allowed to be asked in the 2020 Census. Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice are working very hard on this, even on the 4thof July!" Trump said on Twitter.

President Donald Trump reignited the issue with a tweet Wednesday calling reports that Census questionnaires were being printed without the question "fake" news.

On a conference call Wednesday, U.S. District Judge George Hazel directed the administration to resolve the issue.


"By Friday at 2 p.m. I want one of two things," Hazel said. "I either want a stipulation, as we've been discussing, indicating that the citizenship question will not appear on the census, or I want a proposed scheduling order for how we're going forward on the equal protection claim that's been remanded to this Court."

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice said the Census questionnaires were being printed without the citizenship question after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last week to block the question. But Trump's tweet sent them into a scramble.

"The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the President's position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and Your Honor," Josh Garder, a Justice Department Lawyer, said during Wednesday's conference call. "I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the President has tweeted. But, obviously, as you can imagine, I am doing my absolute best to figure out what's going on."

Supporters of the citizenship question say it would enforce and protect federal voting laws, while opponents say it would cause an untold number of undocumented migrants to avoid participating in the census, leading to a substantial undercount.


The Commerce Department has said printing of the questionnaires needed to begin this week. After the Supreme Court ruling, Trump proposed delaying the Census over the question.

"We at the Department of Justice have been instructed to examine whether there is a path forward consistent with the Supreme Court's decision that would allow us to include the citizenship question on the census," Jody Hunt, assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, said during the conference call. "We think there may be a legally available path under the Supreme Court's decision."

The American Civil Liberties Union responded in a statement, saying it would challenge any further attempts to include a citizenship question.

"The Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration's effort to add a census citizenship question was illegal because it was based on a 'contrived' rationale," ACLU Voting Rights Project Director Dale Ho said in the statement. "Despite that, and despite DOJ's repeated statements that the census questionnaire cannot be changed after June 30, the administration is now examining whether it can concoct a 'new rationale' for its citizenship question. The answer is no, it cannot - at least not a legal one. Any attempt at an end run around the Supreme Court's decision will be unsuccessful, and will be met swiftly in court."


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