California Democrat thinks concerns administration may misuse census data are 'valid'

“We’re seeing ICE go after people and deport them," Rep. Ted Lieu said.

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., is concerned the Trump administration may misuse data attained in the 2020 census after it was announced a citizenship status question will be added late at the request of the Department of Justice.

Speaking with the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast, Lieu told ABC News' Mary Bruce and MaryAlice Parks he understands why immigrants might feel the data could be misused.

“I believe that concern is valid because of what we’re seeing right now,” he said. “We’re seeing ICE go after people and deport them, mothers and fathers, even though they’re just here without papers.”

Lieu and other critics believe the question could suppress participation at a time many fear increased anti-immigration sentiment nationwide, despite laws intended to prevent the U.S. Census Bureau from using the data for anything other than tallying the U.S. population.

“This administration does seem a little more lawless than other administrations, but the primary concern is not what I think, it’s what do these immigrants think when they’re handed that form and asked that question.”

California, the state that Lieu represents, faces perhaps the most potential risk if the citizenship question influences participation. Census data is used to allocate federal resources as well as alter congressional districts, so the results of a potentially limited census response could be far-reaching.

"Federal resources are designed to help everyone," Lieu said, adding that the Constitution dictates all residents be counted.

On President Donald Trump’s potential upcoming negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Lieu, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he has a cautious optimism.

“I support diplomacy with North Korea, I support the president meeting the North Korean dictator,” Lieu explained. “I am concerned, however, that as of today President Trump still has not nominated the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, who would be part of those talks.”

Lieu noted the absence of Rex Tillerson, whom Trump ousted as secretary of state, could also handicap negotiation efforts, and said that recently appointed national security adviser John Bolton’s policy of first strike could prevent reaching an agreement.

“I think it’s very telling that Kim Jong Un went to China, and was a signal that if the U.S. were to strike North Korea first, China would do what they did in the first Korean war, and side with North Korea. And at that point, we don’t win that war.”