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U.S. Census Bureau

After its failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, the Trump administration has forged ahead with ordering the Census Bureau to use government records to produce data about the U.S. citizenship status of every person living in the country.

Recent statements by Census Bureau and Justice Department officials have raised the question of whether the Trump administration plans to diverge from more than two centuries of precedent in how the country's congressional seats and Electoral College votes are divvied up.

Editor's note: This story originally identified the 2020 census questionnaires for American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands as Census Bureau forms that include a question about U.S. citizenship status.

With the legal fight to block a citizenship question from the 2020 census behind them, immigrant rights groups and other advocates are now turning toward what they consider an even greater challenge — getting every person living in the U.S. counted.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET

President Trump announced Thursday he would sign an executive order to obtain data about the U.S. citizenship and noncitizenship status of everyone living in the United States.

In a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump said he would drop efforts to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census. Instead, his executive order will direct all U.S. agencies to provide the Department of Commerce all information they have on U.S. citizenship, noncitizenship and immigration status.

FEMA inspectors conduct damage assessments in Trotwood, where several large apartment complexes were destroyed in the tornadoes.
April Laissle / WYSO

Tornadoes that destroyed and damaged hundreds of homes in western Ohio are complicating population counts for next year's Census.

Updated at 5:42 p.m. ET

An official says the Justice Department has been instructed to keep looking for a way to ask 2020 census responders whether they are citizens of the United States.

The Supreme Court has left in place a lower court's order to block the question for now.

After the Supreme Court declined to allow the question, tweets by President Trump had sowed confusion about whether he planned to continue the legal fight.

Updated at 10:45 p.m. ET

The Trump administration has decided to print the 2020 census forms without a citizenship question, and the printer has been told to start the printing process, Justice Department spokesperson Kelly Laco confirms to NPR.

Updated at 3:56 p.m. ET

The Trump administration appears to have missed its own deadline Monday to start the printing of paper forms and other mailings that will play a key role in next year's constitutionally mandated head count of every person living in the U.S.

Hours after the Supreme Court ruled to keep a citizenship question off 2020 census forms for now, President Trump threatened to delay next year's national head count.

Asked by a reporter for how long he would delay the census until a citizenship question is allowed, Trump did not give an answer.

The courts have yet to issue their final word on whether the Trump administration can add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

But starting Thursday, the Census Bureau is asking about a quarter-million households in the U.S. to fill out questionnaires that include the question, "Is this person a citizen of the United States?"

The forms are part of a last-minute, nine-week experiment the federal government is using to gauge how the public could react next year to census forms with the potential census question.

The history of the U.S. census asking about people's citizenship status is complicated.

Many of the stops and starts have been unearthed as part of the legal battle over the decision by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday on a citizenship question proposed for the 2020 census.

The court's ruling could affect Ohio in several ways. 

The state is expected to lose a congressional seat and an electoral vote after the 2020 Census, due to population declines. Those seats are apportioned on the basis of all residents in a state, not just citizens.

Updated April 25 at 5:28 p.m. ET

The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court appear split along ideological lines on whether a citizenship question can be included on forms for the upcoming 2020 census.

Based on their questions during Tuesday's oral arguments at the high court, the justices appear ready to vote 5-4 to allow the Trump administration to add the hotly contested questions to forms for next year's national head count.

For the final months of 2020 census preparations to continue as planned, the Census Bureau says it is counting on the U.S. Supreme Court to resolve the legal battle over the citizenship question by June. But a new appeal filed by plaintiffs in one of the Maryland lawsuits over the question could complicate that timeline.

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