ATLANTA — The Supreme Court blocked a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 Census, but now the Trump Administration is accused of trying to pressure states to reveal the information in a different way.
The U.S. Census Bureau is now asking states for driver’s license records, which typically include citizenship information.
The move came after the Supreme Court blocked the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 population count.
President Trump then ordered the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, to start collecting citizenship information through state and federal administrative records, specifically the gathering of documents concerning citizenship.
Several civil rights groups have challenged President Trump's executive order to collect this data in federal court.
Civil rights advocates believe the efforts will cause fewer Latinos to take part in the Census.
Others say the data requested from motor vehicle agencies is frequently inaccurate.
The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators said most, if not every state, has received requests for this data, including citizenship status, race, birthdates and addresses. It is advising states to consult privacy officers on how to respond.
Some states, like Florida, are still weighing how to respond, while others, like Illinois, have said no.
A spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Driver Services confirmed it, too, has received the request, but has not yet responded. The agency says it’s reviewing the request to determine what, if any, information will be shared.
In a statement, the Census Bureau said it started requesting state administrative records in 2016 and the data gathered is stripped of identifiable information and is only used for statistical purposes.
It didn't, however, answer why it was asking for driver's license information or why it renewed requests for state data last month, when it already gets records from states.
Still, whatever happens will have a lasting impact, because the population count that comes every decade determines how many congressional seats states get and how billions of dollars in federal money will be spent.
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