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>> For the first time in nearly 70 years, the US government plan to ask people whether they are American citizens when it conducts the 2020 census. Democrats like Representative Jerry Connolly, say the man behind the move, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is trying to cover up the real reason why.
>> I believe he did not tell the truth, and I wanna know why.>> I'm Andy Sullivan in Washington, where Connolly and other Democrats hope to force Ross to drop the citizenship question from the census when they take control of the House of Representatives in January. They're saying it could lead to an undercount in areas where people are spooked by the administration's immigration crackdown.
The government's once in a decade population count determines where federal dollars are spent, and how many states each state gets in the House of Representatives. That could potentially hurt immigrant heavy areas, like Connolly's district in Northern Virginia, if residents are too scared to participate.>> They've created a climate of fear in the immigrant community.
And in a community like mine, one out of three households is an immigrant community.>> Court documents show that Ross added the citizenship question after talking with immigration hardliners in the White House. He told lawmakers that he hadn't discussed the issue with them.>> And so we wanna get him under oath, to explain himself and to explain that very fundamental contradiction in his own testimony.
>> The Commerce Department says he didn't intentionally mislead Congress. President Trump and top aids have made no secret of their desire to scale back immigration. Banning all travelers from some Muslim-majority countries and sending US troops to the Mexican border to stop migrants from Central America.>> You have a lot of bad people.
You have people that are criminals, you have people with records. You have people with criminal records.>> White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders says the citizenship question will help the government enforce voting rights laws.>> I think that it is going to determine the individuals in our country, and provide information that allows us to comply with our own laws.
>> Democrats can't force Ross to drop the citizenship question, but if it turns out he wasn't telling the truth, that gives them a point of leverage. After all, lying to Congress is a federal crime. Expect this to be one of many flash points when Democrats take charge of the House in January.