President Donald Trump is expected to announce later on Thursday that he is withdrawing his efforts to include a citizenship issue in the 2020 census, and is instead taking steps to instruct the Commerce Department to otherwise obtain an estimate of US citizenship, after several sources familiar with the matter.
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Add Donald Trump as an Interest to Stay Informed of ABC News Latest Donald Trump News, Videos, and Analytics In the coming weeks, confusion within the government escalated over its demands, the controversial issue to vote in the census, despite a decision of the Supreme Court that had blocked the move. The White House refused to comment on what the President intends to announce.
Still on Thursday morning, it was repeatedly suggested to the administrative officials that the president would take executive measures and demand the inclusion of the question in the census. It was not immediately clear when and why the final decision was made not to push this plan forward.
Attorney General William Barr, who was to attend the announcement, must now determine a route for three separate ongoing trials to which the government in Maryland, California, and New York tries to include the question in the census.
The Department of Justice declined to comment on ABC News.
The expected announcement follows the government's confirmation last week that the census forms continued to be printed without question, according to the Supreme Court's ruling last month.
In a majority opinion, Judge John Roberts wrote that the government's argument that the question of better enforcement of the Voting Act should be added "seems to have been invented". However, Roberts also left open the possibility that the question could be added if the administration provided sufficient justification.
Following this decision, the Justice and Trade departments announced last week that they would stop renewing efforts to address the issue of citizenship.
But they reversed the course after President Trump tweeted that his government was "absolutely on the march" to pick up the issue, and sent DOJ lawyers to work out a new strategy they would discuss in the ongoing New York, Maryland and California could argue cases.
The Department of Justice unexpectedly announced Sunday night that it intended to completely replace its legal teams in these cases and speculated that some of the attorneys involved were uncomfortable with the government's actions.
In an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week, Attorney General Bill Barr expressed confidence that the administration had a legal way to add the issue, and denied that the exchange was due to internal objections from the previous legal team.
But in two cases the attempted change has hit a major roadblock.
In both New York and Maryland, federal judges have rejected the government's attempt to withdraw their previous lawyers. Both pointed out that the government had not provided sufficient information on how switching between teams would not disrupt ongoing court proceedings.
] Immigration and civil rights groups opposing the efforts of the administration have argued that including a citizenship issue in the census could reduce return rates in immigrant communities, which could lead to federal funding for high-minority areas and congressional districts be shortened in a politically meaningful way Advantage Republicans.
A report from the Census Bureau published last month estimated that adding the question could reduce responses in households with at least one non-citizen by at least 8 percent.
Officials from both the judiciary and the Commerce Department had previously repeatedly argued in court that the census-related legal issues needed to be resolved by the end of June to launch the printing process so that the forms could be ready for shipment by March ,