President Donald Trump announced Thursday he’ll be issuing an executive order directing federal agencies to provide the Commerce Department with records pertaining to “the number of citizens and noncitizens in our country.”
Speaking to reporters from the White House Rose Garden, Trump said his administration is “not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population.”
While Attorney General William Barr said the citizenship question would not be included on the 2020 census, Trump detailed what his administration will do instead.
“I am hereby 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 noncitizens in our country,” Trump said, as ABC Newsreported.
“They must furnish all legally accessible records in their possession immediately. We will utilize these vast federal databases to gain a full, complete, and accurate count of the noncitizen population.”
The president’s remarks came two weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that attempts to add a citizenship question to the census must be reviewed further by lower courts in the coming months.
While the ruling did not decide on the constitutionality of the citizenship question itself, most observers originally expected it meant the question would not appear on the 2020 census.
Instead of addressing the constitutionality of the question, the Court said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had provided inadequate rationale for why the question should be included.
“[T]he decision to reinstate a citizenship question cannot be adequately explained in terms of [the Department of Justice’s] request for improved citizenship data to better enforce the VRA,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the Court’s majority.
“Several points, considered together, reveal a significant mismatch between the decision the Secretary made and the rationale he provided,” he added.
After the ruling was announced, DOJ and Commerce Department officials seemed to suggest they would move forward without the citizenship question.
But Trump said last week his administration would not be giving up.
“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!” the president tweeted last Wednesday.
“We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.”
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 3, 2019
“So important for our Country that the very simple and basic ‘Are you a Citizen of the United States?’ question be allowed to be asked in the 2020 Census,” Trump added in a Thursday tweet.
“Department of Commerce and the Department of Justice are working very hard on this, even on the 4th of July!”
Then on Friday, Trump said he could address the issue using an executive order.
“Are you going to issue an executive order on the census?” a reporter asked Trump from the South Lawn of the White House.
That’s a possibility, the president replied.
“We’re thinking about doing that. It’s one of the ways, we have four or five ways we can do it,” Trump said. “It’s one of the ways that we’re thinking about doing it very seriously.”
“We’re doing well on the census,” he added.