The Trump administration said Tuesday it will start printing the 2020 U.S. Census without a question asking every household about the citizenship status of residents.
The decision came less than a week after the U.S. Supreme Court said the administration needed to come up with a better explanation for why it wanted the question, which experts said would discourage immigrant communities from taking part in the census, a move that could help Republicans politically.
Reacting to the court ruling, President Donald Trump said last week he had asked his lawyers if they could delay the census, “no matter how long” until more information could be given to the Supreme Court.
However, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that while he “strongly” disagreed with the court’s ruling, the U.S. Census Bureau will move forward with the 2020 Census without a citizenship question. “The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question,” Ross said. “My focus, and that of the bureau and the entire department is to conduct a complete and accurate census.”
The possibility of a citizenship question had worried Florida Democrats, who said it would likely lead to an undercount of the state’s population, which is home to roughly 250,000 undocumented immigrants and has a dense population of immigrants.
An undercount would have affected distribution of political power and federal funds during the next decade. Concern about an undercount was brushed off by some Florida Republicans, who argued the country should know how many citizens it has.
Also in the middle of the debate was one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ top attorneys, deputy general counsel James Uthmeier, who refused to answer questions in a congressional interview about the “key role” he played in adding the citizenship question while working in the Trump administration. DeSantis’ office said it had nothing to do with that decision. It also never said whether the governor supported the proposed citizenship question.