Census Bureau Stops Work On Trump’s Request For Unauthorized Immigrant Count

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A demonstrator holds a sign about the U.S. census outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in 2019. The Census Bureau has stopped all work on President Trump’s directive to produce a count of unauthorized immigrants that could be subtracted from a key set of census numbers, NPR has learned.

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images


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Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images


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Trump’s Census Director Is Trying To Rush Out Data On Noncitizens, Watchdog Says

The president’s memo, which was issued in July, was found to be unlawful, unconstitutional or both by three lower courts last year before the Supreme Court ruled in December that it was too early for any court to weigh in because the case is «riddled with contingencies and speculation.»

Trump’s effort has already been hampered by schedule delays stemming from irregularities in the census records that, in addition to the coronavirus pandemic, have resulted in the bureau extending the time for running quality checks and pushing back the release for the first set of census results.

This week, a Justice Department attorney informed a federal judge that the state population counts needed for reapportioning House seats and electoral votes are not expected to be ready until March 6, more than a month into the administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has condemned Trump’s attempt to exclude unauthorized immigrants.

The Census Bureau’s public information office did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for comment.

On Tuesday, another Trump administration push for data about unauthorized immigrants, as well as other noncitizens in the U.S., suffered a blow after the bureau’s internal watchdog issued a memo revealing that the agency’s Trump-appointed director had pressured employees to produce a report by Friday.

According to a memo by Commerce Department Inspector General Peggy Gustafson, multiple whistleblowers at the bureau reported that they are concerned Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham is trying to rush out a data report on noncitizens that would be «statistically indefensible» and could be «misinterpreted, misused, or otherwise tarnish the Bureau’s reputation.»

It remains unclear what the Trump administration would do with the data report on noncitizens. Gustafson has asked Dillingham, whose appointment at the bureau is set to continue past the end of the Trump administration and until the end of this year, to provide a written explanation by Thursday.

In response to NPR’s reporting on Dillingham’s directive, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, the top Democrat on the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds the bureau, issued a tweet criticizing Trump for making «a mission out of manipulating the census.» The senator said she will work with the Biden administration to «repair the damage Trump caused.»

  • 2020 Census
  • Census Bureau

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