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Trump Mulls Executive Order On Citizenship Question, Which Would Defy Supreme Court Order

Speaking to reporters on Friday about the issue of asking a citizenship question on the U.S. Census, President Donald Trump said he may craft an executive order to ensure such a question appears.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The use of an executive order is one of many options he said he’s been considering, according to reporting from the New York Times.

“We’ll see what happens…we could start the printing now and maybe do an addendum after we get a positive [Supreme Court] decision,” Trump said. “So we’re working on a lot of things including an executive order.”

Last month, a 5-4 decision from the Supreme Court found that the government may have a right to change the Census, conducted every 10 years, to include a citizenship question. But the majority said that the Department of Justice did not provide a sufficient justification for why the question was needed, and returned the matter for lower courts to decide NBC News reported.

Lawyers for Trump earlier this year had argued that the printing of the Census form had to begin no later than June. Other organizations have suggested, however, that printing could begin as late as October, albeit with a much higher cost.

DOJ officials earlier this week said they planned to drop the challenges and allow the Census to move forward without the citizenship question. But after a tweet from Trump himself, the DOJ reversed course, and said they were still looking into ways of getting the question included.

If the president does indeed sign an executive order defying the will of the High Court, it could create a difficult situation for two separate yet co-equal branches of government to tackle. As NBC News legal analyst pointed out in a tweet, Trump’s use of an executive order could be “the very definition of a constitutional crisis.”

Worries over the citizenship question abound over whether it would result in an “undercount” of Latinx individuals living in the United States. Such an undercount could have drastic consequences, with some fearing a disproportionate outcome of congressional seats, as well as an unfair distribution of federal resources, occurring.

Even individuals who are legal citizens, who emigrated to the U.S. and gained their citizenship, may be wary of answering a citizenship question, fearing what the federal government might do if they participate. Their worries aren’t exactly unfounded: according to a report from the New York Post last year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement admitted it had wrongly detained up to 1,500 U.S. citizens they thought were undocumented immigrants.



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