Trump backtracks on census citizenship data collection

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US President Donald Trump on Thursday dropped a fight to put a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 census — but ordered federal agencies to give the Commerce Department all records they have that are related to how many citizens and non-citizens live in the United States.

Trump did not, as had he had been expected earlier in the day, issue an executive order mandating that the question to be asked on the census.

The president announced Thursday that he would instead issue an executive order eliminating “long-standing obstacles to data sharing” and mandating various departments and agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration, turn over existing databases to compile the numbers.

“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,” he said, speaking to reporters from the Rose Garden. “…We have great knowledge in many of our agencies. We will leave no stone unturned.”

Despite Thursday’s announcement, the president remained stubborn on the census issue, claiming, “There used to be a time when you could proudly declare I am a citizen of the United States. Now they are trying to erase the very existence of a very important word and a very important thing, citizenship.”

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