The U.S. census, which began in 1790, provides data on the population and has therefore been a fairly non-partisan, non-political event. That all changed under President Trump.

The Trump administration had been pushing for a question on the upcoming 2020 census that would ask if an individual has citizenship. Although news reports said earlier this week that the Department of Commerce under Secretary Wilbur Ross would drop the initiative, Trump has said the reports are "fake" and "we are moving forward."

The Trump administration touted the question as a way to have a more clear idea of how many non-citizens there are in the country. Such information could possibly assist the administration in its attempts to curb illegal immigration.

The administration also believes that it would help the government implement parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which protects minority voters.

Opponents say that such a question could decrease the number of responses to the census survey, which could lead to inaccurate figures. Those without citizenship might be afraid to tell the government. Civil rights groups believe it hurts minority communities and there have been protests across the country on the issue.

The Supreme Court recently stopped an appeal from the Trump administration, while more than two dozen states have filed lawsuits challenging the question.

The census is conducted every 10 years by the Census Bureau, a government agency that collects the data. The federal government then uses the information as data to monitor the changes in the country's population and also allocate the seats of the House of Representatives. The survey also helps distribute billions of dollars across the country for services such as schools, fire departments and hospitals.

The census is mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution.