Trump Explains Why He Wants Citizenship Question on Census as He Considers Executive Order

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.
July 5, 2019 Updated: July 5, 2019

President Donald Trump said that it’s crucial to have the citizenship question on the 2020 Census for a range of issues.

“You need it for many reasons. Number one, you need it for Congress, you need it for Congress, for districting, you need it for appropriations, where are the funds going. How many people are there? Are they citizens, are they not citizens? You need it for many reasons,” Trump told reporters in Washington on July 5.

The president said earlier Friday that he was mulling an executive order that places the question on the census.

Trump said that he spoke with Attorney General William Barr on Friday about the situation.

Epoch Times Photo
President Donald Trump talks to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before departing for his Bedminster, N.J. golf club in Washington on July 5, 2019. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

“We have a number of different avenues. We could use all of them or one. We’re doing very well on that. We’re spending 15 to 20 billion dollars on a census. We’re doing everything. We’re finding out everything about everybody. Think of it: 15 to 20 billion dollars, and you’re not allowed to ask them, are you a citizen?” he said.

“And by the way, if you look at the history of our country, it’s almost always been asked. So we’re fighting very hard against the system, that’s a very difficult system but we’ll make a decision. The attorney general is working on that right now.”

Trump said that an executive order is one of four or five options that are on the table, also saying his administration could print the census now without the question and add it on later.

Trump has focused intensely on the issue this week, repeatedly giving updates on the situation. He said that he told government workers to “do whatever is necessary” to get the question on the census, while Department of Justice lawyers indicated they were looking at possible “legally available” paths forward in a conference call with a federal judge on Wednesday.

Lawyers told the judge that the administration was not giving up the fight to add the question to the census, according to a court filing in Maryland. “[I]f a viable path forward is found, DOJ’s current plan would be to file a motion in the Supreme Court to request instructions on remand to govern further proceedings,” the filing stated.

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A U.S. Census Bureau letter in a file photo. (Michelle R. Smith/AP Photo)


After the Trump administration announced it wanted the question placed back on the census—it was on for centuries until the 1950s—legal groups challenged the plan, claiming it would lead to illegal immigrants declining to respond to the once-in-a-decade census.

A federal judge in February ruled that the question could be on the census. The Supreme Court in June said that the administration’s rationale for including the question wasn’t sufficient but didn’t close the door on the question being included if the administration provided an explanation for including the question that the nation’s highest court considered appropriate.

Some have said the ruling leaves room for Trump to print the census now with the question on it.

“Completely. Print the census with the question—and issue a statement explaining why—’because we should.’ Done,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said.

“Neither the Constitution nor the Roberts opinion say the question cannot be included,” he added. “The President can add it & SCOTUS didn’t say otherwise—just that it wanted a better rationale than Commerce gave… so POTUS ought to do that.”

One former judge said Trump had the authority to place the question on the census through an executive order.

Steven Schier, a professor of political science at Carleton College in Minnesota, told KTSP that he thinks Trump’s chances of getting the question on the census are around 50/50.

“This has been a central theme of the Trump presidency and the Trump campaign in 2016. It was all about citizenship and immigration. He does not want to let this issue go,” Schier said.

“If there is an avenue by which this ends up on the census, it will be an unprecedented avenue, but on the other hand, we’ve got an unprecedented presidency.”

From NTD News

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news and stories relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. He is based in Maryland.