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Friday February 28th, 2020 3:12AM

The Latest: Trump considers executive order on census query

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the legal fight over adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he is "very seriously" considering an executive order to get a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

The Justice Department says it will continue to search for legal grounds to force the inclusion of the question.

Trump says his administration is exploring a number of legal options, but the Justice Department has not said exactly what options remain now that the Supreme Court has barred the question, at least temporarily.

The government has already begun the process of printing the census questionnaire without that question.

The administration's focus on asking broadly about citizenship for the first time since 1950 reflects the enormous political stakes and potential costs in the once-a-decade population count.

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1:45 p.m.

The Justice Department says it will continue to look for legal grounds to force the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

But the department says it's unclear how that will happen.

That's according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs who took part in a conference call Friday with government lawyers and a federal judge who demanded clarification of the administration's plans. President Donald Trump had reopened what appeared to be a final decision by his administration to proceed without the citizenship question on the next census.

Mexican American Legal Defense Fund president and general counsel Thomas Saenz says government lawyers told U.S. District Judge George Hazel they have no clear instructions about how to proceed.

The Supreme Court ruled last week that the question could not be included.

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11:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he is considering an executive order to try to force inclusion of a citizenship question as part of the 2020 Census.

Trump is telling reporters Friday as he departs the White House for a weekend in New Jersey that it's among four or five options he's considering as he pushes the issue. 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.

An executive order would not, by itself, override court rulings, but would perhaps give administration lawyers a new basis to try to persuade federal courts that the question could be included.

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