U.S. Rep. Davis: Count all in 2020 Census

Taylorville Republican says U.S. Constitution demands full count regardless of citizenship

President Trump watches Congressman Davis speak at an election rally last fall in Murphysboro. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

President Trump watches Congressman Davis speak at an election rally last fall in Murphysboro. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

A Republican congressman is countering President Trump by calling for all U.S. residents to be counted in the 2020 Census regardless of their citizenship.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Taylorville made the statement in an interview with WKEI Talk Radio, saying it all comes down to what the U.S. Constitution requires.

“The constitution says count people in this country,” Davis said Wednesday. “And that means we’ve got to count everyone who’s here at the time we do that census count.”

President Trump has tried to add a citizenship question to the census. Critics charge he’s trying to discourage immigrant communities leery of government involvement from taking part. Others suggest the data could be used in gerrymandering.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled out a citizenship question late last month, calling the Trump administration’s stated rationale for it “contrived.” Department of Justice lawyers declared they were dropping pursuit of the question, but Trump continued to fight on.

As late as Thursday afternoon, contradictory media reports were stating that Trump was about to issue an executive order adding the question to the census — or was about to abandon the question entirely. Later Thursday, he abandoned that approach, but instead issued an executive order calling for other government agencies to compile citizenship data.

“The president's directive today suggests he is conceding that he cannot legitimately add the citizenship question to the 2020 Census,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot replied in a statement. “Though today's events represent a victory for our country, we will remain vigilant against attempts to divide our residents and scare our families into the shadows of our society. Any effort to undercut a complete count of every individual affects not only our immigrant communities but also the cities and states in which they live. Chicago will always be a Welcoming City and we will never stop working to ensure the rights of every resident in every community are respected and protected.”

U.S. Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago chimed in as well, calling it “nothing more than a pathetic attempt to save face in light of certain defeat. President Trump’s claim that he would defy the Supreme Court decision by issuing an executive order was unconscionable, un-American, and in direct conflict with the fundamental separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.” He added that the controversy “should serve as a reminder that we must remain vigilant against a president who will stop at nothing to advance an agenda of division and hate.”

Justin Valas of Asian Americans Advancing Justice said at a Chicago immigration rally Thursday that Trump was causing “unnecessary confusion” on the issue. He charged that U.S. Census data was used in rounding up 120,000 Japanese Americans in concentration camps during World War II.

But Valas, like Davis, urged that all U.S. residents take part in the 2020 Census, saying, “We get one shot every 10 years to make sure that our communities and all communities get their fair share of resources and representation.”

The U.S. Census is used to set representatives in Congress and allot federal funding, as well as to determine national population trends. Davis has a personal interest in a full census count in that, given Illinois’s population decline in recent years, the state could lose a seat in Congress or more if residents were to go uncounted. With Democrats set to draw legislative maps after the 2020 Census, they would almost certainly make sure that two Republican districts would be merged into one if the state loses a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.