AG Barr Vows to Get Citizenship Question in 2020 Census After SCOTUS Block
New poll reveals most Americans want the question to be included in the survey
Attorney General William Barr has vowed to ensure the citizenship question will be included the 2020 census, despite a Supreme Court ruling that blocked its inclusion, at least temporarily.
During an interview with The Associated Press, Barr said Monday he sees a way for the Trump administration to legally take action in the coming days that will allow the government to ask the controversial question.
AG Barr didn't reveal any details about the administration's plans, though a senior official said President Donald Trump is expected to issue a memorandum to the Commerce Department instructing it to require census respondents to say whether they are citizens.
The Supreme Court's June ruling was a blow to Trump, who has been pressing for the government to ask about citizenship on next year's census.
According to the Daily Mail, the U.S. Census Bureau's experts have said demanding such information would discourage immigrants from participating in the survey and result in a less accurate census.
That, in turn, would redistribute money and political power away from Democratic-led cities where immigrants tend to cluster, to more rural areas where Republicans do well.
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that Trump wants to add the demand for citizenship information because he wants to "make America white again."
Barr said he has been in regular contact with Trump over the issue.
"I agree with him that the Supreme Court decision was wrong," said Barr.
He said he believes there is "an opportunity potentially to cure the lack of clarity that was the problem and we might as well take a shot at doing that."
He spoke after a new poll showed most Americans believe next year's national census should include a question that sorts citizens from non-citizens.
Trump is the loudest proponent of the idea, which the Census Bureau discarded after 1950.
An Economist/YouGov poll released Sunday asked 1,500 U.S. citizens if the 2020 Census should wade into those waters.
A clear majority, 53 percent, said yes; just 32 percent said no.
The rest were undecided.
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 4th of July!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2019
The acting Citizenship and Immigration Services director said Sunday that Trump is continuing to press for the citizenship question, even though printers have begun to crank out paper questionnaires.
Ken Cuccinelli told "Fox News Sunday" that "the president has expressed determination" to win what has become an extended-play Supreme Court battle with no clear resolution in sight.
The high court kicked the can back to a lower court on June 27, ruling that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross provided a 'contrived' reason for including the question.
But the written opinion, delivered by Chief Justice John Roberts, didn't rule it out.
Pollsters started asking the public for its take three days later.
Trump "has noted that the Supreme Court didn't say, 'This can't be asked'," Cuccinelli said.
"They said that they didn't appreciate the process by which it came forward the first time.
"So the president is determined to fix that and to have it roll forward in the 2020 Census."
The U.S. Constitution requires an accounting of America's population every 10 years.
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.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019
Trump had said Friday that he would be consulting with Attorney General William Barr and saw several paths forward.
"I just spoke with the attorney general. We have a number of different avenues. We could use all of them or one," the president told reporters as he left the White House for the weekend.
Trump said issuing an executive order to restore the question for the first time since 1950 is among the options he is 'very seriously' considering to re-task the $15-20 billion project.
Another is allowing printers to finishing printing millions of questionnaires without the citizenship question, and "maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision" in court.
Trump added Friday that there are several legitimate purposes for the U.S. Census to gather that information.
"You need it for many reasons. Number one, you need it for Congress. You need it for Congress, for districting," he said, referring to the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives.
Conservatives typically argue that when Congress adjusts the states' congressional seats to reflect the movement of the population every ten years, only voting-eligible citizens should count in the calculations.
Liberals counter that asking a citizenship question will make illegal immigrants too afraid to participate and discourage green card holders from taking part, skewing the results
Trump said Friday that Congress should base decisions about "appropriations – where are the funds going?" – on only the citizens who will benefit.
"How many people are there?" he asked.
"Are they citizens? Are they not citizens?
"You need it for many reasons."
"We're doing everything. We're finding out everything about everybody," Trump said.
"Think of it: $15 to $20 billion and you're not allowed to ask them, 'Are you a citizen?'
"And by the way, if you look at the history of our country, it's almost always been asked."