Counting Every Person: Safeguarding the 2020 Census Against the Trump Administration’s Unconstitutional Attacks

Meeting Status: 
Meeting Notes: 
This a hybrid in-person/remote hearing. The new scheduled time for the hearing is 9:30am.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - 9:30am
2154 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC 20515
Counting Every Person: Safeguarding the 2020 Census Against the Trump Administration’s Unconstitutional Attacks


On Wednesday, July 29, 2020, at 9:30 a.m., Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, will hold a hybrid hearing to examine President Donald Trump’s July 21, 2020, memorandum directing Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census count and other efforts to politicize the 2020 Census.


Last week, the Committee invited Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Census Director Steven Dillingham, and Census Bureau Chief Scientist John Abowd to testify at Wednesday’s emergency hearing.  The Committee has also invited three former Census Directors:  Dr. Kenneth Prewitt, Vince Barabba, and John Thompson.


President Trump’s directive contradicts numerous previous statements from Administration officials that they were never seeking to exclude immigrants from the Census—or from congressional apportionment.  For example:


  • Last year, Secretary Ross testified under oath before the Committee that the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census had nothing to do with counting undocumented immigrants for apportionment purposes.  He stated, “the Department of Commerce is fully committed to administering as complete and accurate decennial census as we can.  We intend to try to count every person taking all necessary actions to do so.”


  • At the same hearing, Secretary Ross stated:  “The constitutional mandate, sir, for the census is to try to count every person residing in the U.S. at their place of residence on the dates when the census is conducted.”


  • At a Committee hearing earlier this year, the Census Bureau Director Dillingham was asked whether the Census would count someone “here just illegally.”  He responded, “Congressman, we count everyone, wherever they are living.”


  • In court proceedings, the Department of Justice asserted that the Administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question was not meant to exclude noncitizens from the 2020 Census.  Brett Shumate, a lawyer with the Justice Department, argued that because the questionnaire goes to every single household, and because responding to the Census is required by law, the government was not seeking to exclude anyone.


Mr. Vincent Barabba
Former Director, Census Bureau

Dr. Stephen Dillingham
Director, Census Bureau

Mr. John Eastman
Professor, Henry Salvatori Professor of Law and Community Service Director, Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Dale E. Fowler School of Law, on behalf of at Chapman University and Senior Fellow, Claremont Institute.

Mr. Robert M. Groves
Former Director, Census Bureau (2009-2012)

Mr. Kenneth Prewitt
Former Director, Census Bureau (1998-2001)

Mr. John H. Thompson
Former Director, Census Bureau (2013-2017)

116th Congress