The United States (U.S.) government has backed down from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. census, saying that it will begin printing forms without the query.
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“I respect the Supreme Court but strongly disagree with its ruling regarding my decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 census,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement, adding that the “Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question.”
The issue was taken to the Supreme Court where it lost to a five-four ruling, which saw conservative Chief Justice John Roberts join the court’s four liberals in the majority.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Trump administration had no choice...Everyone in the U.S. counts in the census, and today’s decision means we all will,” said Dale Ho, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration decided to push for the citizenship question, arguing it would serve to better enforce a law that protects the voting rights of racial minorities. Citizenship status has not been asked of all households since the 1950 census.
However, critics said it was Republican ploy to scare migrants into not taking part in the population count to cause an undercount in Democratic-majority areas with high immigrant and Latino populations.
The U.S. census which is conducted every decade plays a crucial role in studies and reports that in turn also impact state, national-level policy-making decisions.
Every person residing in the country is counted in the decennial census, irrespective of whether they are U.S. citizens or not, the results of which are used to redraw political boundaries ranging from school boards to Congress seats, allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grants and subsidies to where they are needed most.