(SOUND BITE) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Are you a citizen of the United States of America?
Oh, gee, I'm sorry.
I just can't answer." President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he is bailing on his plan to add a contentious citizenship question to the 2020 census, but said he will issue an executive order to get the data by other means.
(SOUND BITE) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I am hereby ordering every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and non-citizens in our country." Reuters Legal Correspondent Andrew Chung explains.
(SOUND BITE) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT ANDREW CHUNG, SAYING: "So president Trump's new plan is to gather all of the citizenship data that the administration wants from the Department of HomelandSecurity, from the Social Security Administration and others.
It's worth noting that the Census Bureau had always told the administration was the better way to capture citizenship data - that it would be more accurate to get information from these sources, rather than asking the question directly on the census because doing that would deter what they estimated to be millions of people, especially from immigrant communities from answering that question and participating in the census itself." The Trump administration’s attempts to add the contentious question was blocked two weeks ago by the U.S. Supreme Court, which said the administration had failed to offer an adequate reason for adding the question.
Critics contend that asking about citizenship in the census discriminates against racial minorities and was aimed at giving Republicans an unfair advantage in elections.
But U.S. Attorney General William Barr insisted to the end that the Trump administration had every right to ask the question, and needs to know how many non-citizens are living in the country.
(SOUND BITE) U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM BARR, SAYING: "It would be perfectly lawful for the federal government to ask on the Census whether individuals are citizens of the United States... We simply cannot complete the litigation in time to carry out the Census." Trump has made hard-line policies on immigration a central feature of his presidency and his campaign for re-election in 2020.
(SOUND BITE) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "...we are not backing down..." In a statement, the American Civil Liberties Union said Trump is "backing down and taking the option that he rejected more than a year ago.
Trump may claim victory today, but this is nothing short of a total, humiliating defeat for him and his administration."