Ian Bassin, the president and executive director of the liberal nonprofit Protect Democracy Project (PDP), said the proposed citizenship question for the 2020 U.S. census is an attempt to institutionalize "white power."
"There’s a term for trying to create a structural political advantage for 'Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,' and that term is 'white power.' And we now know that’s been the purpose all along for adding a citizenship question to the census," Bassin told the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin.
"Make no mistake: The government lawyers — appointees and civil servants alike — who are spending this weekend trying to cleanse the record of this fact and salvage this plan are employing their legal skills in the service of white power," he added.
Bassin spoke with Rubin for an opinion column she published over the weekend on the ongoing controversy about President Donald Trump's efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Trump has continued to push for the citizenship question to be put on the 2020 census after the Supreme Court rejected the explanation behind adding the question. The Justice Department has recently replaced the team of attorneys tasked with defending the question.
The PDP's goal is "to hold the President and the Executive Branch accountable to the laws and longstanding practices that have protected our democracy through both Democratic and Republican Administrations," according to the group's website. The PDP received 84 percent of its $2,660,436 in contributions in 2017 from nine anonymous donors.
Bassin is also the executive director of United to Protect Democracy (UDP), the sister organization of PDP, whose mission is "to prevent our democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government." The UDP received a "huge network of support" from other Obama lawyers, and 92 percent of the group's contributions in 2017 came from seven anonymous donors.
According to his biography on PDP's website, Bassin served as Associate White House Counsel during for three years during President Obama's first term.