House Democrats file bill nixing citizenship data-gathering

FILE - this April 5, 2020 file photo, shows An envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit. A federal judge on Thursday, May 21, 2020, agreed to impose financial sanctions against the Trump administration for failing to produce hundreds of documents during litigation over whether a citizenship question could be added to the 2020 census. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ORLANDO, Fla. – President Donald Trump's administration would be barred from gathering citizenship data through administrative records under a bill introduced Monday in the House, marking the latest challenge to an order Trump issued after the Supreme Court nixed his plan to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

The bill introduced by House Democrats would nullify Trump's order last July directing the U.S. Census Bureau to gather citizenship information from the administrative records of federal and state agencies. The citizenship data could give states the option of creating legislative districts that exclude non-citizens from the population count, according to the order.

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Trump issued the order after the Supreme Court barred a citizenship question from being added to the 2020 census questionnaire on the grounds that the government’s justification was insufficient.

House Democrats investigating the citizenship question’s origins said a Trump transition adviser was in contact with an influential Republican redistricting guru, Thomas Hofeller, when the citizenship question was being drafted in 2017. Hofeller, who died in 2018, advocated using voting-age citizens, instead of the total population, as the population base for redistricting. In documents that surfaced after his death, he acknowledged his intent was to help Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.

The 2020 census — a once-a-decade head count — helps determine how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is allocated and how many congressional seats each state gets.

Trump’s order also is being challenged by civil rights groups in federal court in Maryland.

U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat from Nevada and one of the bill's sponsors, said the purpose of the president's order was to collect data for “political and discriminatory purposes."

“Our founders included the decennial Census in the Constitution because a representative democracy depends on an accurate count of its people, and any attempt to undermine such an important aspect of our democracy is wrong," Horsford, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus 2020 Census Task Force, said in a statement.


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