Trump looking 'very strongly' at delaying census

President TrumpDonald John TrumpButtigieg surges ahead of Iowa caucuses Biden leads among Latino Democrats in Texas, California Kavanaugh hailed by conservative gathering in first public speech since confirmation MORE said Monday he's looking “very strongly” at delaying the 2020 census if the administration is not allowed to add a citizenship question, an unprecedented move that would surely trigger new legal challenges.

“We’re looking at that,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about a delay. “So you can ask other things, but you can’t ask whether or not somebody is a citizen? So we are trying to do that. We’re looking at that very strongly.”

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Trump first floated a delay of the census last week after the Supreme Court blocked the administration from including a citizenship question, demanding that the Commerce Department provide a more clear-cut explanation for the move.

The president said it’s crucial the question be asked because “it’s very important to find out if somebody’s a citizen as opposed to an illegal.” He said, without citing evidence, that immigrants living illegally in the U.S. are “treated better than the coal miner” suffering from black lung.

The high court’s ruling may preclude the question from being added to census forms. The Commerce Department has said it faces a July 1 printing deadline but that it could be pushed back to the end of October under extenuating circumstances.

Legal experts have said delaying the census would violate the Constitution, which says it must take place every 10 years and must count all people living in the U.S. Under federal law, the census must begin by April 1, 2020.

Trump said last week he was asking his legal advisers to examine whether a delay is possible.