NEWS3 July 2019

Trump administration backs down over census citizenship question

News North America Public Sector

US – The Trump administration has dropped its plans to ask about citizenship on the 2020 census, with the Census Bureau saying it has begun printing the questionnaires without the query.

US census questionnaire

The US Supreme Court ruled on 27 June that the question could not be added as the administration had not given a valid explanation for its inclusion.

In the aftermath of the decision, Trump suggested the administration would seek legal advice to try to delay the census to include the question, but on Tuesday ( 2 July), the Department of Justice confirmed the query would not be added to the census.

Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, who is responsible for the census, said in a statement: "I respect the Supreme Court but strongly disagree with its ruling regarding my decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

"The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question. My focus, and that of the bureau and the entire department, is to conduct a complete and accurate census."

The decision to ask about citizenship in the decennial census was announced in March 2018. Critics of the question, including civil rights organisations and business groups, feared it would lead to inaccurate data.

Howard Fienberg, vice-president of advocacy for the Insights Association, said: "This is another win for accurate census data, and the marketing research and data analytics industry that relies upon it.

"No statistically representative research studies can be conducted in the US without the most accurate decennial census data underpinning it. While plenty of challenges still lie ahead, the dropping of the citizenship question will certainly improve the chances of a successful 2020 census."

Arturo Varga, chief executive of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund, said: "While we are happy with this decision, we know that this effort to undermine the progress of the Latino community and suppress the count of Latinos has still left its mark on Census 2020. Our work mobilising the nation’s second largest population group remains more important than ever as we attempt to rebuild the trust that has been eroded over the course of this struggle."