WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday backed down from his controversial push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, effectively conceding defeat in a battle he had revived last week and promised to continue despite a recent string of legal defeats.
Trump announced that he instead plans to order every federal agency to give records to the Commerce Department that detail the numbers of citizens and noncitizens in the United States.
“I’m proud to be a citizen; you’re proud to be a citizen,” Trump said in the late afternoon event at the Rose Garden. “The only people that are not proud to be citizens are the ones who are fighting us all the way about the word citizen.”
The announcement marked the end of a more than a year and a half push by the administration to ask about citizenship status on the decennial survey, which opponents decried as an effort to systematically undercount Latinos and scare immigrant communities from participating in a survey that determines congressional districts and the disbursement of some federal funds.
It followed days of confusion and mixed signals from the administration over how it would proceed following a Supreme Court ruling late last month that the government could not include the question on the census without a solid justification. The court found the administration’s original rationale for the addition “contrived.”
But the political tensions over Trump’s push to collect citizenship data and concerns that he may have scared immigrant communities from fully participating in the census are likely to continue even if they are reduced for now.