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Trump reportedly backing down from census citizenship question fight

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President Donald Trump boards Air Force One to return to Washington from Morristown Municipal Airport in Morristown, New Jersey, July 7, 2019.

Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

President Donald Trump will no longer seek to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census, backing down from the high-profile legal battle in a rare concession of defeat, multiple outlets reported on Thursday.

The president is expected to announce his next steps at a news conference later Thursday. One of those next steps will include seeking citizenship information via other means, an administration source told NBC News. ABC News first reported on the president’s change of plans.

Asked how the president would obtain that information, a White House spokesman said: “Waiting on POTUS announcement…”

Advocacy groups and a number of Democratic-led states challenged Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s decision to add the question to the census in a series of legal battles last year. Critics of the question, citing government experts, said the inclusion of the question would result in less accurate data and undercount minority groups, including Hispanics.

Those legal challenges culminated in a Supreme Court ruling late last month that effectively blocked the question, with Chief Justice John Roberts penning the 5-4 opinion on behalf of himself and the court’s liberal wing.

Despite that ruling, Trump vowed to push on. After the Justice Department said earlier this month that the census would be printed without the question included, Trump declared the announcement fake news. Attorney General William Barr said earlier this week that he believed the administration could find a legal way to include the question on the census.

The Constitution requires the census to be taken once every ten years. The data from the survey is used to allocated hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funding and representation in Congress.

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