Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross contradicted the Trump administration’s justification for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, revealing for the first time Thursday that he began to consider the adding the question even before the Department of Justice requested that he do so.
The disclosure came in a supplemental memo filed as part of an ongoing lawsuit challenging the addition of the citizenship question. The memo is significant because the Trump administration has said that the request to add the citizenship question originated with the Department of Justice, which wanted better data to enforce the Voting Rights Act. DOJ asked the Department of Commerce to add the question in December of 2017, but Ross revealed for the first time on Thursday that other senior administration officials had raised it earlier and he had been considering it.
Ross said he had begun considering adding a citizenship question after he was appointed secretary of commerce (he was confirmed in February 2017) and that it was he who approached the DOJ about adding the question….
The supplemental memo is likely to lend fuel to claims by civil rights and immigration groups, who say the DOJ request was merely a pretext for adding the citizenship question. They say that the Trump administration wanted to add the question in order to drive down immigrant response rate