WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said he will abandon plans to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census due to court delays but will issue an executive order requiring all federal departments and agencies to provide an accurate count of citizens and non-citizens in the United States.
"We are pursuing a new option to ensure a complete and timely count of the non-citizen population," Trump said in remarks at the White House on Thursday. "Today I will be issuing an executive order to put this very plan into effect immediately. I hereby am ordering every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in our country."
Trump added that his executive order eliminates obstacles to data sharing that will allow the US government to have a more accurate count of citizens than through asking in the Census questionnaire. He added that the decision to add the question would ultimately survive legal review but further potential challenges in court would delay the ability to add it in the 2020 Census.
US Attorney General William Barr said at the press conference that he believes the government has ample justification to inquire about citizenship status in the Census. Moreover, Barr said the administration will study the issue of whether illegal immigrants in the United States can be included in the Census for apportionment purposes.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in a tweet said Trump's decision to not include a citizenship question on the 2020 census was a "victory." The US legal rights group also said Trump's new plan to compile citizenship data will be scrutinized closely.