“The American people have a right to know who is in their country!” President Donald Trump said in a Facebook post earlier today just after signing an executive order to require federal agencies to hand over data on citizens and non-citizens living in America to the Department of Commerce.
The president’s executive order follows the Supreme Court’s ruling against him in his effort to get a citizenship question asking if the person is a citizen of the United States on the 2020 census.
Here’s the Facebook post from the official Donald J. Trump page and video of his announcement:
The breaking news of the president's executive order to get the citizenship data also hit Twitter earlier:
Fox News had the following to say about President Trump's decision to "not back down" and issue the executive order:
President Trump, speaking at the White House on Thursday, announced that he would "immediately" issue an executive order to get an accurate count of non-citizens and citizens in the United States -- a measure Trump said would be "far more accurate" than relying on a citizenship question in the 2020 census.
The move would make use of "vast" federal databases and free up information sharing among all federal agencies concerning who they know is living in the country, Trump said.
"Today I'm here to say we are not backing down in our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population," the president told reporters in the Rose Garden, after slamming "far-left Democrats" seeking to "conceal the number of illegal aliens in our midst."
"We will leave no stone unturned," Trump asserted. He called legal opposition to adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census "meritless," but said the ongoing judicial morass in several federal district courts made it logistically impossible to resolve the matter before the 2020 census forms needed to be printed.
Bill Barr backed up Trump's decision and said that the citizenship data will be used to re-think the Electoral College and congressional apportionment (the real reason Dems are so opposed to Trump on it...)
Speaking after Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr said the information collected via the executive order could be useful in determining the makeup of the Electoral College and congressional apportionment.
"That information will be used for countless purposes. For example, there is a current dispute over whether illegal aliens can be included for apportionment purposes. ... We will be studying this issue," Barr said.
Census counts -- which by law include illegal immigrants -- have been used to determine the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives for the next 10 years, the number of electors afforded each state in the Electoral College and the distribution of some $675 billion in federal spending.
The Census Bureau's own experts have said requiring information about citizenship would discourage illegal immigrants from participating and lead to a less accurate count. That, in turn, would redistribute money and political power away from many cities led by Democrats where immigrants tend to cluster.
Barr also agreed with Trump that the Supreme Court decision last month posed insurmountable "logistical" -- but not "legal" -- barriers to asking the citizenship question on the census. The government already has started the lengthy and expensive process of printing the census questionnaire without the question.
Additionally, Barr slammed media reports that the White House would issue an executive order in an attempt to illegally force a citizenship question on the census. "In the hysterical mode of the day," Barr said, media outlets speculated that Trump simply would add the question to the census unilaterally.
"This has never been under consideration," Barr said.
Many Democrats promptly characterized the president's move as a "retreat," and condemned the news conference. Others vowed to consider challenging the executive order in court.
ABC News also commented:
President Donald Trump announced Thursday he is backing down from his effort to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, and will instead take executive action that instructs the Commerce Department to obtain an estimate of U.S. citizenship through other means.
"I am hereby ordering every department and agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested records regarding the number of citizens and noncitizens in our country," Trump said in a Rose Garden announcement on Thursday afternoon. "They must furnish all legally accessible records in their possession immediately. We will utilize these vast federal databases to gain a full, complete, and accurate count of the noncitizen population."
Attorney General William Barr later took the podium at the event to congratulate the president on the executive order, and indicated that it marks the end of the three separate ongoing court cases the administration is fighting in Maryland, California and New York over the administration's efforts to add the question to the census.
"There is simply no way to litigate these issues and obtain relief from the current injunctions in time to implement any new decision without jeopardizing our ability to carry out the census," Barr said, after insisting that he believed the government's effort would have inevitably survived a legal review if brought back before the Supreme Court.
But Barr also suggested, near the close of his remarks, that the administration would explore ways to potentially use the information collected from agencies to advise the congressional redistricting process, a move that would almost certainly generate a legal challenge from the same groups that brought lawsuits over the citizenship question.
"There is a current dispute over whether illegal aliens can be included for apportionment purposes," Barr said. "Depending on the resolution of that dispute, this data may possibly prove relevant."
The announcement brings to a close weeks of escalating confusion within the government over his demands that the controversial question be included in the census despite a Supreme Court order that had blocked the move.