President Donald Trump announced Thursday, July 11, that his administration will drop efforts to put a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, a dramatic concession just a week after insisting they were “absolutely moving forward” and that news reports to the contrary — citing his own executive branch — were “FAKE!”
Flanked by Attorney General Bill Barr in the Rose Garden at the White House, Trump said that because of the time it would take to continue litigating over the question, the administration would pursue a different option — to collect citizenship data from federal agencies. The Census Bureau had originally recommended this plan to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, but he rejected it in favor of adding the citizenship question.
The groups that sued the administration over the question claimed victory. Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement that “Trump’s attempt to weaponize the census ends not with a bang but a whimper.”
“Now he’s backing down and taking the option that he rejected more than a year ago. Trump may claim victory today, but this is nothing short of a total, humiliating defeat for him and his administration,” Ho said. “When the details of Trump’s new plan to compile citizenship data outside of the census come out — and his plans for using that data — we will scrutinize them closely and assess their legality.”