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 RossWilbur Ross ordered to give deposition in 2020 census case: report The seafood trade deficit is a diversionary tactic Wilbur Ross is wrong; the pain from the trade war is coming 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 GomezHillicon Valley: Facebook stock plummets in biggest one-day drop | Trump threatens to investigate Twitter | GOP lawmaker backs off impeaching Rosenstein | Dems demand Trump officials testify on election security Dems lash out at Amazon over facial recognition software misidentification Hispanic Dems press Nielsen on family separations MORE (D-Calif.), Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyChelsea Clinton: Politics a 'definite maybe' in the future Women poised to take charge in Dem majority A new urgency to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment MORE (D-N.Y.) and Judy ChuJudy May ChuState Department: Allegations of racism 'disgusting and false' Dems vow to grab Trump tax returns upon taking majority Overnight Health Care: Drug price fight heats up | Skepticism over drug companies' pledges | Ads target HHS secretary over child separations | Senate confirms VA pick 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 CummingsRep. Cummings: Will Kavanaugh take lie detector test and ask for FBI investigation? Graham to renew call for second special counsel Hillicon Valley: Sanders finds perfect target in Amazon | Cyberattacks are new fear 17 years after 9/11 | Firm outs alleged British Airways hackers | Trump to target election interference with sanctions | Apple creating portal for police data requests 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.