White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders falsely claimed on Tuesday that the citizenship question the Trump administration decided to add to the 2020 Census has been part of the national survey for decades.
“This is a question that’s been included in every census since 1965, with the exception of 2010 when it was removed,” Sanders said, later repeating the same claim.
The citizenship question has not been part of the census since 1950. As Michael Li, a voting and redistricting lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice, explained, a citizenship question has been included on the ongoing American Community Survey, but not on the full form, decennial census since the middle of the twentieth century.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says adding the question about citizenship in the 2020 Census is “necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters” https://t.co/EAJCLAohYr pic.twitter.com/0lkE9fC2kA
— CNN (@CNN) March 27, 2018
The Trump administration announced late Monday that it was adding the question to the survey which is used by the government to redraw congressional districts, allocate funds, and provide a survey of the U.S. population. Within hours, California filed suit, calling the addition unconstitutional and saying it will lead to inaccurate results because immigrants and communities of color are likely to avoid the survey.
“We’re prepared to do what we must to protect California from a deficient Census,” said state Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Including a citizenship question on the 2020 census is not just a bad idea – it is illegal.”
Sanders also claimed that the Commerce Department felt strongly that the question be included in order to provide the U.S. Department of Justice with data to “protect voters” and “specifically to help us better comply with the Voting Rights Act.”
That statement is also misleading. According to a recent ProPublica report, the original DOJ letter requesting the change was drafted by John Gore, “a Trump political appointee who is best known for his work defending Republican redistricting efforts around the country.”
Emails obtained by ProPublica show Gore sent a draft of the letter to the Census Bureau in November. Gore did not sign the letter.