Trump explores delaying census after Supreme Court blocks citizenship question

World Today

U.S. President Donald Trump said he’s looking into delaying next year’s full census.

That’s after the Supreme Court of the United States blocked his administration’s plans to include a controversial question on citizenship.

Opponents feared it would be used to target immigrants.

CGTN’s Owen Fairclough reports.

Lourdes Rodriguez became a U.S. citizen four years ago after leaving her native Dominican Republic in 1984.

She’s a volunteer for fellow Hispanic immigrants who lobbied the U.S. Supreme Court to block White House efforts to include a question on citizenship status in next year’s full census.

Sitting outside the office of the We Are Casa advocacy group in Hyattsville, Maryland, Lourdes told me: “This is a country of immigrants. It’s our country.”

Opponents like Lourdes claim the Trump administration would use the citizenship question to impose its hardline immigration policy.

A citizenship question was included in the 10-year census until 1950 but is currently restricted to an annual survey sampling only around two percent of U.S. households.

The Census Bureau said including this question in the official census will lead to a substantial undercount if it’s boycotted by non-citizens, though non-respondents risk a fine of up to $5,000.

At stake: the accuracy of critical data mandated by the Constitution and used by Congress to distribute around 800 billion dollars of public service funding.

Other countries ask citizenship questions in their censuses and the United Nations said collecting this information is important for examining migration patterns.

The Trump administration said it needs the data to prevent voting discrimination and denies it will be used to target ethnic minorities. But it has happened in the past.

During the Second World War the Census Bureau disclosed citizenship status details to help authorities intern some 120,000 Japanese Americans.

For Lourdes, the issue is about trust in a government. Pro-immigrant groups filed a lawsuit in May, arguing the White House wants citizenship data to help redraw electoral boundaries favorable to the Republican Party.

“I see this is a trap,” Lourdes said. “I see it as a way for Hispanics to not have a vote and not to be counted.”

President Trump said he’s looking delaying the census after the Supreme Court said in its ruling it needed a fuller explanation from the government to justify asking about citizenship.

But for now, the controversial question has been dropped – the Census Bureau is due this weekend to print test forms sampling non-response rates