Ted Cruz: Citizenship question on census is 'basic common sense'

A citizenship question on the 2020 census is “basic common sense,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said on Tuesday.

Appearing on “America’s Newsroom,” Cruz told anchor Sandra Smith that the Supreme Court’s decision to temporarily block the question was a disappointment. The Supreme Court argued that President Trump’s administration’s justification “seems to have been contrived.”

Conversely, the administration has argued that it wanted the question included to aid in enforcing the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters’ access to the ballot box.

“Chief Justice Roberts sided with the liberal Justices in concluding that essentially he did not credit the commerce department’s justification. He basically said that they didn’t cross their t’s and dot their i’s; they didn’t execute it well,” Cruz said.

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“I thought that was an unfortunate decision. But, the Supreme Court majority also says quite clearly, of course, you can ask this question and that ain’t complicated. As a legal matter, virtually every census from over a hundred years has asked the question,” he said.

On Monday, Attorney General William Barr said he sees a way to legally require the 2020 census respondents to declare whether or not they are citizens, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In an interview, Barr said the Trump administration will take action in the coming days that he believes will allow the government to add the controversial query.

Barr said he has been in regular contact with the president over the issue and that he agrees that the Supreme Court’s decision was “wrong.”

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The Department of Justice is replacing the legal team that has been pursuing the president’s efforts.

Additionally, a senior official said the president is expected to issue a memorandum to the Commerce Department instructing it to include the question on census forms.

On "America's Newsroom," Cruz said to Smith: “I’m heartened that both the president and Attorney General Barr have indicated their intention to go forward as the clear authority of the president and the administration. And, in fact, the constitutional responsibility. And, they need to do it. They need to do it accurately. The need to do it right. But, part of doing it right is asking basic questions including, ‘Are you a citizen?’”

If the 2020 census form does ultimately ask about citizenship status, it will be the first time the U.S. census has directly asked for the citizenship status of every person living in every household.

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Reaction to the potential question has been mixed. Critics argue that requiring such information would discourage immigrants from participating in the survey and result in a less accurate count.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Monday that the president wants to add the demand for citizenship information because he wants to “make America white again.”

In a letter to colleagues, Pelosi wrote that the House would be moving forward with a vote to hold Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress after the administration failed to comply with subpoenas regarding the census question.

Cruz believes the opposing Democrats are “just driven by this blinding white-hot rage and hatred of the president.”

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“They’re all about indictments, they’re all about investigations and subpoenas. And, ultimately—I think we’ll see next year—impeachment because their base is filled with rage,” he told Smith.

“I wish the Democrats would stop playing politics and instead focus on common-sense policies that focus on jobs and real needs of the American people,” he lamented.