U.S. President Donald Trump retreated on Thursday from adding a contentious question on citizenship to the 2020 census. Instead he ordered government agencies to hand over citizenship information to Commerce, as court challenges would have delayed a census.
“As a result of today’s executive order we will be able to ensure the 2020 census generates an accurate count of how many citizens, non-citizens and illegal aliens are in the United States of America,” Mr Trump said at the White House.
Critics called the question politically motivated and said it would lead to fewer immigrant households taking part.
The announcement reflected reality intersecting with Trump’s desire to bolster his image as an immigration hard-liner as he moves ahead with his 2020 reelection bid.
Trump believes the immigration matter remains a potent force in his popularity among conservative voters, and hopes to further solidify his position in the year-and-a-half before he faces reelection.