In a last-minute move that would give Republicans an advantage in maintaining control of the House of Representatives, the Trump administration is reinstating a question about citizenship to the 2020 census. Coming from an administration that has been hostile toward immigrants, the change was not surprising, but it’s galling nonetheless.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the decision Monday, less than a week before the Census Bureau, which his department oversees, is supposed to send final questions for the 2020 census to Congress. If his decision stands — the attorney general of California has filed a lawsuit to block it, and other elected officials are preparing to do so — it would be the first time in 70 years that the federal government has asked people to specify their citizenship status on the census form sent to every household.
Even Mr. Ross acknowledged in an October House hearing that adding questions to the census reduced response rates because “the more things you ask in those forms, the less likely you are to get them in.”
By now, many people have come to expect that Mr. Trump will inject politics into every decision. But even by this administration’s low standards, trifling with the census, which is required by the Constitution and is a foundation of American democracy, represents a serious breach of trust.
Unfortunately, the Times editorial board does not have the guts to say what is really going on: This is a nakedly partisan attempt to suppress responses to the census in Democratic locations, with the hope that they can juice the numbers to effectively Gerrymander the Congressional map even further.
This is patently and transparently corrupt.