- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Trump re-election campaign took a victory lap Wednesday over the administration’s decision to ask about citizenship in the main 2020 census, saying President Trump personally deserves credit for the move.

“The people spoke. President Trump has officially mandated that the 2020 United States Census ask people living in America whether or not they are citizens,” the campaign said in an email to supporters.

The message urges Trump backers to sign onto a petition making clear they support the move.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 count earlier this week — though the Trump campaign had signaled the decision in another email blast to supporters, saying Mr. Trump was pushing for the census to ask the question.

Immigrant-rights groups and Democrats have gone ballistic in the days since the announcement, accusing Mr. Trump of politicizing the census. They argue that asking about citizenship will scare immigrants away from participating, which will sour the count — particularly in Democrat-heavy urban areas.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed the first lawsuit challenging the new question less than three hours after Mr. Ross’ decision.

SEE ALSO: White House defends citizenship question on U.S. Census form as standard practice

Mr. Trump’s campaign focus on the issue could end up playing a role in those legal battles, as Democrats argue the decision is more about politics than data.

Mr. Ross, in his official justification for the decision, said the Justice Department had asked to include the question in order to gather more data to better enforce the Voting Rights Act.

The census asked about citizenship status on decennial surveys from 1850 to 1950. After that the question was relegated to the census “long form,” which meant a subset of Americans — about one in six — were asked about citizenship every decade.

In 2010 the long form was nixed in favor of a rolling census, the American Community Survey, which polls between 1 and 2 percent of the population each year. The ACS does still ask about citizenship, as do a couple of other census surveys.

But the “short form” — the main document supposed to be filled out for every resident every 10 years — has not asked about citizenship for some time.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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