Justice Department seeking to add citizenship question to 2020 Census

Immigration

In this May 14, 2013, file photo, the Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington is photographed early in the morning. The Justice Department said Friday, July 5, 2019, it will continue to look for legal grounds to force the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department says it will continue to look for legal grounds to force the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

But the department says it’s unclear how that will happen. That’s according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs who took part in a conference call Friday with government lawyers and a federal judge who demanded clarification of the administration’s plans. President Donald Trump had reopened what appeared to be a final decision by his administration to proceed without the citizenship question on the next census.

Mexican American Legal Defense Fund president and general counsel Thomas Saenz says government lawyers told U.S. District Judge George Hazel they have no clear instructions about how to proceed.

Trump said he is considering an executive order to try to force inclusion of a citizenship question as part of the 2020 Census

Trump told reporters Friday as he departed the White House for a weekend in New Jersey that it’s among four or five options he’s considering as he pushes the issue. The government has already begun the process of printing the census questionnaire without that question.

Trump’s administration has faced numerous roadblocks to adding the question, including last week’s Supreme Court ruling that blocked its inclusion, at least temporarily.

An executive order would not, by itself, override court rulings, but would perhaps give administration lawyers a new basis to try to persuade federal courts that the question could be included.

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