US Census Bureau To Stop Counting American Population A Month Earlier Than Planned
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August 06, 2020 at 7:05 pm
The director of the U.S. Census Bureau has announced the agency will conclude all of its counting initiatives on September 30, which is a month sooner than previously stated.
According to NPR, Census Director Steven Dillingham confirmed in a statement on Monday that activities like online response collection and community canvassing efforts will be suspended as the agency aims to "accelerate the completion of data collection and apportionment counts” by the last day of the year.
“We will end field data collection by September 30, 2020,” the statement read. “Self-response options will also close on that date to permit the commencement of data processing. Under this plan, the Census Bureau intends to meet a similar level of household responses as collected in prior censuses, including outreach to hard-to-count communities.”
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, counting initiatives like community door-knocking and online reporting, implemented to serve the most marginalized communities, were slated to conclude by the end of July for the upcoming census.
But amid social distancing guidelines, which began in March, the bureau temporarily suspended field data collection efforts, thus halting in-person canvassing. The bureau requested statutory relief from Congress in the form of 120 additional calendar days to provide final apportionment counts. The bureau is scheduled to give conclusive numbers by December 31, so it asked that its deadline for collection of the numerical data be pushed back to October 31, reports NPR.
But they won't be given that additional 31 days.
Initially, President Donald Trump said he didn't think the 120 days the bureau requested to provide final numbers would be sufficient, given the extraordinary circumstances facing its efforts.
"I don’t know if they even have to ask them,” Trump said in April. “This is called ‘an act of God,’ this is called a situation ... they have to give it. And I think 120 days isn’t nearly enough.”
But something appeared to have changed along the way.
On July 29, Dillingham testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, saying that bureau "and others really want us to proceed as rapidly as possible," which contradicts what the president endorsed earlier this year. Dillingham also discussed the bureau’s work following the Presidential Memorandum excluding illegal immigrants from the apportionment base.
“In response to the July 21, 2020, Presidential Memorandum, the Census Bureau has begun to examine and report on methodologies available to ‘provide information permitting the President, to the extent practicable, to exercise the President’s discretion to carry out the policy’ of ‘the exclusion of illegal aliens from the apportionment base, to the extent feasible and to the maximum extent of the President’s discretion under the law,’ as cited in the President’s memorandum,” he said.
During the hearing, Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney asked four former directors of the bureau if they believed Trump’s memo violated the Constitution.
Past bureau directors Kenneth Prewitt, Vincent Barabba, John Thompson and Robert Groves each responded “yes” and noted, “all previous censuses and apportionment counts in the history of the United States have included both citizens and noncitizens, including undocumented immigrants.”
NPR reports that Democrats and census advocates alike are concerned that the Trump administration’s interference with the bureau’s counting activities may be a ploy to benefit Republicans when voting districts are redrawn.
In July, a top bureau official said the agency had passed the point of being able to meet the proposed deadlines.
With debates over the most recent coronavirus relief package not yet completed, there is still time for legislators to include a motion that would give the Census Bureau more time, per NPR. However, such proposals have been exclusive to Democrats, and Republicans have yet to support such legislation.
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