President Donald Trump finally put to rest the confusion over the next US census, scheduled for 2020, and whether it would include a question about the legal status of each respondent. Having no viable alternative course of action – after the Supreme Court struck down the Commerce Department’s plan to include the question – the president conceded that the census would go ahead without it.
There is certainly nothing improper, immoral, or illegal about such a query. Every nation on earth has the right to know who, among all the residents within the official borders of its territory, is a citizen, a legal resident – in whatever capacity – or an illegal migrant. The Supreme Court did not prohibit the inclusion of the citizenship question because it was not legally or constitutionally permissible, but because the Commerce Department did not present a valid argument for its inclusion.
Trump Administration Drops the Ball
Someone within the Trump administration should have had the foresight to predict the objections, though, and the matter should have been handled many months ago. There really is no way to describe the debacle over the inclusion of a citizenship question other than as a case of complete mismanagement on the part of the Commerce Department. Indeed, the president himself also appears to have dropped the ball on this one.
After the recent Supreme Court opinion, there was talk of an executive order, but that was never a realistic possibility. The deadline for the census to go to the printer came and went while the inclusion of this question was still the subject of bickering. The Democrats need not have made such a big deal about it, but they chose to in order to pander to their anti-borders voters. The icing on the cake for the president’s opponents was that they could frame the dispute as one of inclusion versus racism – even though asking about citizenship status has absolutely nothing to do with race.
“Today, I am here to say we are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population,” Trump said during a Rose Garden press conference July 11. He announced his intention to sign an executive order requiring federal agencies to provide the Commerce Department with citizenship data.
“I’m proud to be a citizen,” the president said. “You’re proud to be a citizen. The only people that are not proud to be citizens are the ones who are fighting us all the way about the word ‘citizen.’ ”
It does appear that the modern Democratic Party is intent upon diminishing the status of American citizenship and, at least for the purpose of campaign soundbites and red meat for the base, Trump may be able to snatch at least a partial victory from what is otherwise a defeat: The constitutionally mandated census will not actually count the number of citizens – he will be able to argue – because the left objects to the very concept of citizenship. As he has proved so often before, Trump has a knack for turning the tables on his opponents and, though he has only his own people – and perhaps himself – to blame for the census defeat, he may yet use the outcome to his advantage.