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Can The Census Bureau Ask The State About Your Citizenship Status?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The U.S. Supreme Court told them no.

But that didn't stop the U.S. Census Bureau from trying to find out your citizenship status.

CBS 2's Tara Molina has the story.

A branch of the U.S. Census Bureau reached out to the Illinois Secretary of State's office for driver and identity card information.

That request included citizenship status. In Illinois, the agency was denied.

The Illinois Secretary of State's office's responded to an email requesting state records for "a data sharing project." Specifically, "data from the administration of Drivers Licensing and Identification Issuance" including name, address, date of birth, sex, race, eye color and citizenship status.

"This is something that we felt had been decided by the (U.S.) Supreme Court most recently," said Dave Druker, with the Illinois Secretary of State's office.  "Our feeling is that can be done without that particular question."

Illinois is one of 13 states that offers drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants. In this state, a resident who meets certain criteria can get a temporary visitor's license.

"I understand the logic of why we would be the agency they would come to, but we guard people's privacy. We take that very seriously," Drucker said.

He said his office wasn't alone.

Drucker said all the departments of motor vehicles around the country received the same request from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators released a statement which said:

"When several jurisdictions let us know that they were receiving requests from the Census Bureau, we made our members aware of these requests and that they may receive similar requests in their states."

CBS 2 reached out to the U.S. Census office in Chicago, the national office that made the request and the U.S. Department of Commerce which oversees the census to find out why the request went out.

The agency has yet to respond.

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