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New US census turmoil as Trump denies dropping citizenship question

Updated: 2019-07-04 03:06

Demonstrators gather at the Supreme Court in the United States as the justices finish the term with key decisions on gerrymandering and a census case involving an attempt by the Trump administration to ask everyone about their citizenship status in the 2020 census, on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 27, 2019. [Photo/IC]

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his administration had not dropped its efforts to add a contentious citizenship question to the 2020 US census, contradicting statements made by his own officials including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The US Supreme Court last Thursday blocked Trump's plan to add the citizenship question, saying administration officials had given a "contrived" rationale.

Administration officials including Ross said on Tuesday that the census forms were being printed without the citizenship question.

Critics have called the citizenship question a Republican ploy to scare immigrants into not taking part in the decennial population count and engineer an undercount in Democratic-leaning areas with high immigrant and Latino populations. That would benefit non-Hispanic whites and help Trump's fellow Republicans gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and state legislatures when new electoral district boundaries are drawn after the census, the critics said.

"The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE! We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question," Trump wrote on Twitter.

White House and Commerce Department officials had no immediate comment on Trump's tweet.

"There's nothing fake about the Department of Justice writing us saying printing is starting without the citizenship question," the American Civil Liberties Union, which had challenged the citizenship question in court, wrote on Twitter.

Democratic US Representative Carolyn Maloney told Reuters that the Justice Department and Commerce secretary both confirmed to her office "that the printing process will move forward without the citizenship question."

Trump's hardline policies on immigration have been a key element of his presidency and 2020 re-election campaign.

Trump last Thursday also said he is exploring whether the census, which the US Constitution requires be carried out every 10 years, can be delayed.

But Ross, a key figure in the controversy, said in a statement on Tuesday, "The Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question."


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