Trump vows to ‘leave no stone unturned’ to obtain citizenship data for U.S. Census

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump dropped plans on Thursday to add a contentious citizenship question to the 2020 census, but insisted the government would obtain the data by other means.

“We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population,” Trump said in an announcement at the White House.

He said he was ordering every federal government agency to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in the country.

“We will leave no stone unturned,” he said.

Trump’s plan to add the question to the census ran into a roadblock two weeks ago when the Supreme Court ruled against the plan. He had been expected until a few hours before his remarks to go ahead despite that ruling by using an executive order to include the question, prompting some analysts to say he risked a constitutional crisis by going ahead.

The U.S. Census Bureau is part of the Commerce Department. The Constitution specifically assigns the job of overseeing the census to Congress, which complicated adding the question to the once-a-decade nationwide survey via a presidential order.

Critics of the Trump administration’s effort say that asking about citizenship in the census discriminates against racial minorities and is aimed at giving Republicans an unfair advantage in elections. Trump and his supporters say it makes sense to know how many non-citizens are living in the country.

Republican Trump has made hard-line policies on immigration a feature of his presidency and his campaign for re-election in 2020. The more than 20 Democrats vying for their party’s nomination to run against Trump question his immigration policies.

Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Doina Chiacu, Makini Brice and Eric Beech; Writing by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Alistair Bell and Grant McCool

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