President Trump said Wednesday that he is still intent on adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, contradicting his own Commerce and Justice departments who said the fight is over.
Mr. Trump didn’t say what his specific plans were and it’s unclear what he could do to stop the questionnaire, which has now been finalized without the citizenship question included.
“The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE! We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question,” the president tweeted.
That’s very different than what Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the census, and the Justice Department, which had battled in court to defend the citizenship question, said on Tuesday.
Democrats and immigrant-rights activists who won the court case to cut the question said the president’s tweet seemed to be an “attempt to sow chaos and confusion.”
“The Supreme Court of the United States has spoken, and Trump’s own Commerce Department has spoken. It’s time to move forward to ensure every person in the country is counted,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James.
She and other opponents of the citizenship question had argued it was an attempt to suppress Hispanic and immigrant participation in the 2020 count. That contention was backed up by the Census’s own studies.
Mr. Ross had said he added the question at the behest of the Justice Department, which wanted better citizenship information to enforce voting-rights laws.
But evidence emerged that Mr. Ross had talked with key political figures who argued the question could help maximize GOP gains after the next round of redistricting.
In a 5-4 decision last week the Supreme Court ruled that while asking about citizenship is legal, the Trump administration’s justification for why it did so in this case didn’t hold up.
The court sent the case back to a lower court to be reconsidered, but it left virtually no time for the matter to be resolved before the Commerce Department’s deadline last Sunday to finalize the questions.
Mr. Trump blasted the Supreme Court’s decision in a series of tweets Tuesday, and said he’d asked his government to do “whatever is necessary” to get the citizenship question added. He called it “this most vital of questions.”
• Stephen Dinan contributed to this story.
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