Mr Trump and his team of hard line immigration advisers – led by domestic policy adviser Stephen Miller – have targeted the annual count of all people living in the United States before, losing a battle last year in July when he dropped a bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
During a White House event almost one year ago to the date (19 July), the president slammed federal judges and the Supreme Court for blocking his desire to add the question.
The White House is readying an executive order that would block undocumented immigrants from being counted in this year’s census, with Donald Trump likely signing it Friday.
Politico’s Playbook newsletter first reported the expected order and a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed it is in the works.
He dubbed that decision a “left-wing” effort to erode the rights of American citizens, and teased a “solution” that he rolled out later that day in a Rose Garden event.
“We are not backing down,” Mr Trump said at that time. “We will defend the right of the American people to know the full facts about the population, size of citizens and non-citizens in America. … Knowing this information is vital to formulating sound public policy.”
At that time, the president announced his administration would mandate each federal department give the Commerce Department every record about non-citizens and citizens who are in the United States, claiming such a step was needed to get “an accurate count of the non-citizen population.”
Though he one year ago vowed to “leave no stone unturned,” the coming order is yet another reversal from his administration: He now simply intends to not count them at all.
Rumblings of the move appeared to have reached Capitol Hill last week – and were met with bipartisan resistance.
Senators Jerry Moran (Republican of Kansas) and Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat of New Hampshire), the chairman and vice chairwoman of a Senate spending committee that doles out census funding, wrote Census Director Stephen Dillingham on 7 July saying: “It is imperative for the census to count every person in the United States, where they live, and this includes communities that for various reasons have historically had low participation in decennial censuses.”
“We expect that data processing will be free from political interference and that the highest standards of integrity and fairness will be upheld,” the duo wrote. “We will be closely watching to ensure this is the case. Further, we expect the Bureau to continue to update the Committee regularly on its progress and to be alerted immediately should you require additional resources for the 2020 Decennial Census.”
The two senators said in a statement their concerns came after hearing Trump political appointees had quietly been transferred to the census shop.
The census is “mandated by the Constitution and conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, a nonpartisan government agency. The 2020 Census counts the population in the United States and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands),” according to a government fact sheet.
“The census provides critical data that lawmakers, business owners, teachers, and many others use to provide daily services, products, and support for you and your community. Every year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data,” the fact sheet states. “The results of the census also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.”
After Mr Trump tried to add the citizenship question last year, some immigration advocates warned undocumented migrants likely would skip filling out their forms, fearing possible deportation.