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 RossSupreme Court to hear census citizenship case this term Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers press officials on 2020 election security | T-Mobile, Sprint execs defend merger before Congress | Officials charge alleged Iranian spy | Senate panel kicks off talks on data security bill Apple, IBM, Walmart join White House advisory board 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 GomezDem lawmakers call for FBI probe into Trump golf clubs' hiring of undocumented immigrants Trump will give State of Union to sea of opponents Dem lawmaker to bring former Trump property undocumented worker to State of the Union MORE (D-Calif.), Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyDem lawmaker rips opposition to Amazon going into New York: 'Now we're protesting jobs' Democrat vows to move forward with impeachment, dividing his party Patricia Arquette, Alyssa Milano rally for Equal Rights Amendment MORE (D-N.Y.) and Judy ChuJudy May ChuDems introduce bill to take gender-specific terms out of tax code to make it LGBT-inclusive Dems build case for obtaining Trump's tax returns Schumer hits back at Trump: ‘He’s hostage-taking once again’ 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 chairman: Trump lawyers may have given false info about Cohen payments Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment Rule change sharpens Dem investigations into Trump 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.