A collection of states started preparing legal actions against the Trump administration on Tuesday just hours after the Commerce Department announced that it would include a controversial question about citizenship status in the 2020 U.S. Census — a move that could have far-reaching effects on immigrants and the political landscape.
The decision to include the question sparked a wave of backlash from congressional Democrats and civil rights groups, and the White House on Tuesday was pressed to defend the move.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders disputed claims that the revamped census could see a drop in response rates from immigrants, who may fear the information could lead to their deportation, disproportionately affecting their ability to attain federal resources.
“This is something that’s been part of the census for decades and something that the Department of Commerce felt strongly needed to be included again,” she told reporters at the White House press briefing on Tuesday.
Sanders maintained that including the question was “necessary for the Department of Justice to protect voters” and would boost efforts to comply with federal voting rights laws.