President Donald Trump's administration has been struggling to come up with a new justification for rigging the 2020 Census to interrogate people about citizenship ever since it became clear that officials lied to Congress about the change and that it was pushed by GOP activists who want to intimidate and undercount minorities into losing representation.
On Friday, Ken Cuccinelli, Trump's new acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, took a stab at it by arguing that the question's inclusion would help the government "with the burden of those who are not here legally."
Michael Li, the redistricting and voting rights counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice, quickly demolished that argument, pointing out that using the census in such a manner would be illegal even if the citizenship question was allowed:
More on census confidentiality laws here: https://t.co/HEwp2rkbfc #2020Census 2/ https://t.co/ymzHyaSaZr— Michael Li 李之樸 (@Michael Li 李之樸) 1562366716.0
Cuccinelli, the former Attorney General of Virginia, is a hardline extremist on immigration who tried to ban undocumented immigrants from attending state colleges and once compared U.S. immigration policy to exterminating rats. Trump appointed him to lead USCIS in June, using a dubious appointment tactic to circumvent Senate confirmation.