After failed census legal fight, how Trump plans to get citizenship information

After failed census legal fight, how Trump plans to get citizenship information


JUDY WOODRUFF: President Trump says he’s backing
down from his legal fight to add a controversial citizenship question to the 2020 census. The Supreme Court had already ruled that the
administration’s previous explanations didn’t justify adding the question. In remarks in the White House Rose Garden
late today, the president said he is pursuing new avenues to get that information. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
We are pursuing a new option to ensure a complete and timely count of the non-citizen population. Today, I will be issuing an executive order
to put this very plan into effect immediately. I am hereby ordering every department and
agency in the federal government to provide the Department of Commerce with all requested
records regarding the number of citizens and noncitizens in our country. They must furnish all legally accessible records
in their possession immediately. We will utilize these vast federal databases
to gain a full, complete and accurate count of the non-citizen population, including databases
maintained by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. We have great knowledge in many of our agencies. We will leave no stone unturned. JUDY WOODRUFF: We turn now for more to three
of our “NewsHour” correspondents, Yamiche Alcindor, who is at the White House, plus
Amna Nawaz and Lisa Desjardins here with me in the studio. Yamiche, let me come to you. The president had been, it seemed, determined
to add this citizenship question one way or another to the census. Now he’s backed down. Why? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Well, this is a big loss
for President Trump. And he’s essentially admitting that he can’t
argue for the citizenship question to be added to the census in time without jeopardizing
the census itself. The Supreme Court ruled that the administration’s
reasoning was essentially contrived and that they were arguing that the Voting Rights Act
needed to be better enforced, that, of course, being the Voting Rights Act that’s supposed
to be prohibiting racial discrimination on — in voting. That argument didn’t fly. And the president and the government had been
scrambling to come up with a solution. Instead, the president saying now, essentially,
they can’t do that without essentially putting at risk the census. The census is already being printed. Now, critics say that this is already a chilling
effect, because the census is tied directly to how we distribute money in this country,
how we draw congressional lines, and it’s tied to the Electoral College. So there’s already, some people fear, a chilling
effect that immigrants will not want to fill out the census. But, that said, the president essentially
is conceding here that he just can’t get done what he wanted to do. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Yamiche, by asking all
government agencies to turn this information about citizens, non-citizens over to the Commerce
Department, what exactly is the president trying to do? YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The president is essentially
now asking every single agency in the federal government to turn over whatever records they
have on citizenship or non-citizenship to the Commerce Department, so that they can
now have some sort of database where they can make a sort of official count of who’s
an immigrant and essentially who’s not an immigrant in this country. That being said, there are people who essentially
say that this is about the president, in some ways, spreading fear in the immigrant community. Immigration activists that I have been talking
to say, this dovetails with a lot of other things that the administration is doing, that
it’s not happening in a vacuum. So you look at the idea that the president
is trying to change the way that asylum works in this country. The president’s also having these detention
facilities that people say have Troubling conditions, but he’s also now targeting immigrant
families for some sort of mass raids going on this weekend. So people are saying that this is part of
the president really trying to strike fear into the hearts of immigrants. And that is, unfortunately, working. JUDY WOODRUFF: Yamiche, and we are going to
try to come back to you in a minute. But, meantime, Amna, you have been talking
to Homeland Security officials. What do we know about whether there may be
these massive roundups or raids of immigrants over the weekend? AMNA NAWAZ: Yes, Yamiche is exactly right. This is a key issue for the administration. We know the president has tweeted about mass
raids like this before. It looks more likely now for a few reasons. Look, ICE is basically saying they’re targeting
getting people who are here undocumented and who have been given final removal orders. What that means is, they came to the United
States, they made a claim of protection of some kind, asylum or something else. That was denied by a court. They’re now ready to be deported. And there’s a backlog of these people, several
hundred thousand or so. It’s an enormous logistical undertaking to
run this kind of raid; 2,000 people or so are expected to be targeted in cities across
the country, weeks of investigative effort to figure out where they live, verify their
addresses, make sure kids aren’t going to be abandoned if parents are picked up… (CROSSTALK) JUDY WOODRUFF: These are families. AMNA NAWAZ: … school. They are families. They are indeed. Now, what are the reasons we think ICE is
able to do something like this right now is what a senior DHS official told me yesterday. Those record border crossings we were seeing
in previous months, they dipped slightly last month . That took pressure off the entire
system. They’re no longer surged past capacity in
terms of detention beds. They believe they have the space to go get
some of these people, detain them, and then properly deport them through the channels. One of the reasons they’re getting pushback,
though, is a lot of those removal order are issued in what’s called in absentia, meaning
people weren’t there in the court when those orders were issued by a judge. They don’t know if people even know that they
are supposed to be deported. This happens a lot within immigrant communities. There’s already a legal challenge trying to
protect those people from deportation. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Amna, we know some in the
Trump administration are saying, this is not new. Previous administrations have rounded up immigrants
before. What is the case? What’s the truth about that? AMNA NAWAZ: Well, that’s absolutely true. I mean, President Obama earned the nickname
deporter in chief because he deported more people than any previous president; 2,000
people doesn’t seem like that many. It’s a lot for a short period of time. ICE says they have the capacity to be able
to do that. But, look, the other problem is that, in detention,
there’s been so many concerns about those conditions, as Yamiche mentioned earlier,
allegations of abuse, squalid conditions, how children are properly cared for or not
cared for and family detention. There’s a number of reasons there’s concern
about additional people being brought into ICE custody and detention right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Lisa, let me turn to you
now. We have seen much of this before. Democrats and others in Congress are pushing
back. What are they doing? LISA DESJARDINS: We’re seeing Democrats flex
more muscle. I think this is sort of phase two of how they’re
trying to confront this president, as the opposition party. We saw just today the House Judiciary Committee
authorized subpoenas for 12 very high-ranking current and former Trump administration officials. This includes Jared Kushner, also former campaign
manager Corey Lewandowski, former Chief of Staff John Kelly. This is — these people couldn’t be questioned
on two things, one, their relations to the Mueller report, but also, Judy, these subpoenas
directly talk about the zero tolerance policy and child separation at the border. These Democrats are saying, we have not gotten
satisfying answers from Homeland Security or the Trump administration in terms of what
it is doing, is it legal? And they will now subpoena these officials. Of course, the problem is, we have seen the
Trump administration — the problem for Democrats — has said they don’t feel that they need
to comply with things subpoenas. So Democrats are also taking another step
there. Next week, they have announced they will take
a vote on the House floor to file criminal contempt against Attorney General Barr and
also the commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, for their noncompliance, in the view of the
House, with subpoenas about the census question. And so this will be a very — this is — kind
of is closest to clear combat as you can get in a legislative sense. Now, then that goes to the courts. And this takes a long time to enforce. But Democrats are stepping things up. One other note, Judy, about these ICE raids. You and Amna hit on such a key point that
I have heard from Republicans today, notably. Republicans are a little nervous about these
ICE raids, because they are worried about, in their communities, they see labor shortages. They have seen in the past large raids like
this, even under Obama, affect families and communities in very difficult ways. And they are concerned about how this will
be enacted. I talked to multiple Republicans who are just
unsure and worried about how this goes. They’re watching very carefully. JUDY WOODRUFF: Very interesting, being watched
from so many different directions. As if this weren’t enough going on at the
White House today, Yamiche, I want to come back to you, because the president hosted
something that the White House had talked about. This was a summit to discuss social media
and what is allowed and what isn’t. Tell us about what took place there at that
gathering. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: The goal of this social
media summit at the White House today was really to argue that conservatives are being
unfairly targeted and discriminated against by social media giants like Twitter and Facebook. Now, neither one of those companies were invited
to this social media gathering. The president says he wants to invite those
companies to the White House later on. But the president was essentially saying,
we don’t want to be censored as Republicans. And he was saying that people that are pro-life,
that are pro-Trump, their accounts are being targeted and even being pulled down. There are people, of course, that disagree
with that view. There are people who say this was really a
gathering of far right individuals and at times bad Internet actors. One person that was at the White House today
was a Twitter user who spread the racist idea that Senator Kamala Harris wasn’t black enough
to speak for African-Americans because her mother’s Indian and her father is Jamaican. So there’s a lot of back and forth on this. There are a lot of people who think this wasn’t
a good gathering, and that other people should have been more — invited to this, that this
should have been a more inclusive setting. So, overall, there are a lot of complaints
about this. But, in a few weeks, there will be some social
media sites coming to the White House. So that will continue to develop. JUDY WOODRUFF: And then just quickly, Amna
Nawaz, you have done some reporting about that gathering and some of the language that
was used there today. AMNA NAWAZ: That’s right. Some of those people Yamiche mentioned who
they self-identify as conservative, or also identified by people who track extremist or
dangerous rhetoric online as alt-right or far right or extremist kind of views, they
were in the room, some of them aligned with white nationalist kind of language as well. And there was a recent study by a group called
the Institute for Strategic Dialogue which looked at how — and this is around the world,
but also true here in the U.S. — a lot of that language that previously existed only
really on the far right fringes has become much more mainstream, particularly through
the use of social media. So that was something they were watching today
and a trend that they have been seeing increasing around the world, as I said, but really here
in the U.S. as well. JUDY WOODRUFF: Disturbing news on so many
fronts today. Thank you, all three, Amna Nawaz, Lisa Desjardins,
Yamiche Alcindor at the White House. Thank you. YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Thanks.

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