Capitol Alert

Trump administration to pay California nearly $850,000 after failed census citizenship fight

The Trump administration reached a settlement with California on Friday in which it essentially concluded its fight to add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census.

According to a three-page agreement reached on Friday with Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Office, the Trump administration will pay the state $846,000 for lawyer fees and related costs.

Lawyers representing California and other states had prevailed in court in getting the citizenship question struck down. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Trump administration’s efforts to include the question in the 2020 census, concluding the administration’s reasoning appeared to be “contrived.”

Opponents of the Trump administration’s proposal feared that adding a citizenship question would reduce participation, which could disproportionately hurt states like California with large immigrant populations.

Shortly after the court’s decision, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom stressed the need for Californians to complete the decennial survey.

“If you don’t participate in the Census, Trump wins. It’s as clear as that,” Newsom said. “We are going to make sure that we run an unprecedented campaign to make sure we touch every corner of this state.”

California could lose nearly $2,000 from the federal government each year over the next decade for every person not counted. If there’s a substantial undercount, the lost funding could add up to billions of dollars.

Trump and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross later announced they’d abandon the fight to get the question added on the Census and instead try to obtain citizenship data through other means.

Trump issued an executive order in July directing executive agencies to provide citizenship data to the commerce department “to the maximum extent permissible under law.” The order also urged Ross to “expand the collection of citizenship data in the future.”

Ross’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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Bryan Anderson is a political reporter for The Bee. He covers the California Legislature and reports on wildfires and transportation. He also hosts The Bee’s “California Nation” podcast.
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