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Trump: Lawyers working on census citizenship question on July 4

Reuters logo Reuters 7/4/2019
Wilbur Ross wearing a suit and tie: President Trump is shown in the White House Rose Garden. © Reuters/Leah Millis President Trump is shown in the White House Rose Garden.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that government lawyers were working to find a way to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census, even on the federal Independence Day holiday.

Facing a deadline to get the census forms printed, administration officials, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, said on Tuesday they were going ahead without including the question. A day later, Trump reversed that decision in a Twitter post, writing: "We are absolutely moving forward."

"Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice are working very hard on this, even on the 4th of July!" Trump wrote in another post early on Thursday.

Trump was issuing an executive order on including the question, Axios reported, citing a senior legal source.

The Supreme Court last week blocked the question from being included, saying administration officials had given a "contrived" rationale for including the query in the decennial U.S. population survey. The court, however, left open the possibility that the administration could offer a plausible rationale.

Critics have called the citizenship question a Republican ploy to scare immigrants into not participating and engineer a population undercount in Democratic-leaning areas with high immigrant and Latino populations.

They say that would benefit non-Hispanic whites and help Trump's fellow Republicans gain seats in the House of Representatives and state legislatures when new electoral district boundaries are drawn.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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