Trump Might Use Executive Order to Put a Citizenship Question on the 2020 Census

'We're thinking about doing that — it's one of the ways'

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President Donald Trump declared on Friday morning he’s considering using an executive order to insert a citizenship question into the 2020 census.

It’s one of several options — and the administration has until 2 p.m. on Friday to decide. (Update, 2:10 p.m. on Friday: The Justice Department has told the federal court it’s still exploring options on this.)

“We’re thinking about doing that — it’s one of the ways. We have four or five ways to do it,” Trump told members of the media when asked if he was considering such an executive order.

“We can do the printing now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive decision [from the Supreme Court],” he also said.

“Think about it, $15-20 billion [to be spent on a census] and you’re not allowed to ask if someone’s a citizen,” the president added.

He also noted that Attorney General William Barr is hard at work on the issue.

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See the following tweets about the issue:

The Supreme Court ruled on June 27 that the administration’s reasoning for wanting the citizenship question in place — that it would help enforce the Voting Rights Act — was not sufficient. The court also ruled that in theory, the government could ask about citizenship on the census — it and “left open the possibility that the administration could offer a plausible rationale to add the question,” as Reuters noted on the issue.

The court sent the case back to the lower courts for further consideration.

Many viewed this as a major blow to the administration.

After that, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced his department would print the census without the citizenship question. That was taken as evidence that the administration was dropping the issue.

But Trump later made clear that any reports the administration had dropped the issue were “fake.” On Thursday, July 4, he said the question was “so important” and that both the Justice Department and the Commerce Department were “working very hard on this.”

A high-ranking Justice Department lawyer told a federal judge on Wednesday that the administration had not abandoned efforts to put the question on the census, saying there may yet be a “legally available path” open to the administration, as Fox News reported.

The Justice Department faces a Friday afternoon deadline to respond to a judge’s order on whether the administration will try again to get the question on the census form — or not.

Democrats are adamantly opposed to the insertion of any citizenship question; they claim immigrants may not want to be counted in the census.

See, for example, the comments below of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who claims that that the president “places the highest priority on suppressing minority participation and representation.”

If immigrants don’t answer the question, then official population numbers would appear lower than they really are — which could then deliver less federal funding and fewer congressional seats in districts with significant immigrant populations.

Those districts, of course, tend to favor the Democrats.

An executive order could also encounter huge pushback.

And it could fail in the Supreme Court, as Fox also noted.

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This article has been updated.

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