House Dems ask Ross to address 'glaring contradictions' in rationale for citizenship question

House Dems ask Ross to address 'glaring contradictions' in rationale for citizenship question
© Anna Moneymaker

Fifty-six House Democrats on Monday signed a letter demanding Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHillicon Valley: Tim Cook visits White House | House hearing grapples with deepfake threat | Bill, Melinda Gates launch lobbying group | Tech turns to K-Street in antitrust fight | Lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger Hillicon Valley: Tim Cook visits White House | House hearing grapples with deepfake threat | Bill, Melinda Gates launch lobbying group | Tech turns to K-Street in antitrust fight | Lawsuit poses major threat to T-Mobile, Sprint merger Apple CEO Tim Cook visits White House to discuss workforce initiative MORE address what they call “glaring contradictions” in his rationale for adding a controversial citizenship question to the census.

Ross originally said he added the question, which will ask census-takers to list their citizenship, at the request of the Justice Department. But Ross filed a memo last month revealing the question’s inclusion was his idea, according to a Washington Post report.

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The letter by House Democrats, led by Reps. Jimmy GomezJimmy GomezLawmakers call for 'time out' on facial recognition tech Amazon shareholders vote down limits on facial recognition software The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration MORE (D-Calif.), Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyUS women's soccer team reignites equal pay push US women's soccer team reignites equal pay push New York congresswoman calls for helicopter ban after fatal crash MORE (D-N.Y.) and Judy ChuJudy May ChuOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Senators unveil sweeping bipartisan health care package | House lawmakers float Medicare pricing reforms | Dems offer bill to guarantee abortion access The Go-Go's rock the stage at annual 'We Write the Songs' DC concert Pelosi faces tipping point on Trump impeachment MORE (D-Calif.), demands that Ross explain why he originally told Congress the Justice Department “initiated the request” during congressional testimony when his comments in the recent memo suggest that is untrue. 

“We remain deeply concerned that a citizenship question will lead to an inaccurate count and have detrimental consequences for our country,” the letter states. “With so much at stake, we must be able to obtain truthful information from the Commerce Department about how this decision was made.”

The letter asks Ross to answer four questions about who proposed the citizenship question and when they did so.

Because the census determines federal funding and congressional redistricting, several advocacy organizations have stated undercounting noncitizens could result in discrimination of these populations.  

A group of 21 immigrant rights advocacy organizations in May filed a lawsuit challenging the citizenship question to the 2020 census.

“This newly released document reveals that the Commerce Department pressed the Justice Department to ask for the citizenship question to be added to the census — not the other way around,” Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsHouse Democrats question DHS over using facial recognition tech on US citizens House Democrats question DHS over using facial recognition tech on US citizens Democrats lash out at Trump's bombshell remarks MORE (D-Md.) said in a statement after the memo was released.

“This document ... it raises grave questions about whether Secretary Ross and other Commerce Department officials misled Congress when they concealed this fact and testified repeatedly that they were merely responding to the Justice Department’s request,” Cummings said in his statement.

A Commerce Department spokesman said the memo was filed “in the interest of transparency and expeditious resolution of frivolous litigation,” The Washington Post reported.