WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump said Friday he is "very seriously" considering an executive order to try to force the inclusion of a citizenship question as part of the 2020 Census.
Speaking to reporters as he departed the White House for a weekend in New Jersey, Trump said the idea is among four or five options he's considering as he pushes the issue.
"It's one of the ways that we're thinking about doing it, very seriously," he said, despite the fact that the government has already begun the process of printing the census questionnaire without that question.
Trump's administration has faced numerous roadblocks to adding the question, including last week's Supreme Court ruling that blocked its inclusion, at least temporarily. But Trump has insisted his administration push forward, and suggested Friday officials might be able to add an addendum to the questionnaire with the question after it's already printed.
An executive order would not, by itself, override court rulings blocking the inclusion of the citizenship question. But such an action from Trump would perhaps give administration lawyers a new basis to try to persuade federal courts that the question could be included.
"Executive orders do not override decisions of the Supreme Court," Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said in a statement Friday. MALDEF is representing plaintiffs in the census lawsuit in Maryland.
Opponents of the citizenship question say it would discourage immigrant participation, resulting in inaccurate figures for a count that determines the distribution of some $675 billion in federal spending, as well as how many congressional districts each state gets.