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NEWS12 July 2019

Trump drops census citizenship question proposal

Legal News North America Public Sector

US – Donald Trump has backed away from pursuing a citizenship question on the 2020 US census, instead ordering federal agencies to turn over existing data on citizens and non-citizens.

The retreat puts an end to confusion over the census, after a Supreme Court ruling said that the Trump administration needed to provide an alternative explanation for why it wanted to include a question on citizenship.

The question was opposed by various civil rights organisations, states, cities and business groups over fears it would negatively impact response rate and result in inaccurate data.

Following the Supreme Court decision on 27 June, justice department officials had been investigating whether there was "a legally available path" to the question’s inclusion.

However, Trump said during a Rose Garden conference yesterday ( 11 July) that efforts to add the question were causing delays and would prevent the census from being completed on time.

Instead, he said he would obtain the information through an executive order to federal agencies to provide the department of commerce with records on the number of citizens and non-citizens.

"We have great knowledge in many of our agencies. We will leave no stone unturned," Trump said. "With today’s executive order, which eliminates long-standing obstacles to data sharing, we’re aiming to count everyone. Ultimately, this will allow us to have an even more complete count of citizens than through asking the single question alone."

Howard Fienberg, vice-president of advocacy at the Insights Association, said: “Now that the citizenship question controversy is finally over, we’re optimistic that every potential stakeholder, especially in the business community, will rally in support of getting out the 2020 count, as they normally do. It is time for the private sector to get engaged and help drive the necessary public awareness campaign to deliver the most accurate census of America.”

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