Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Census Bureau stops work on Trump EO differentiating undocumented immigrants from population count

According to Hansi Lo Wang at NPR:

The U.S. Census Bureau has halted all work on President Trump's directive to produce a state-by-state count of unauthorized immigrants that would have been used to alter a key set of census numbers, NPR has learned.

Senior career officials at the bureau instructed the internal team assigned to carry out Trump's presidential memo to stand down and cease their work immediately on Tuesday night, according to a bureau employee who spoke to NPR on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation in the workplace for speaking out.

The move by civil servants effectively ends the bureau's participation in Trump's bid to make an unprecedented change to who is counted in the 2020 census numbers that will be used to reallocate each state's share of congressional seats and Electoral College votes for the next decade.

According to the 14th Amendment, those counts must include the "whole number of persons in each state." 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."

The halt is the direct result of the Census Bureau's delay in reporting the results for the 2020 census following numerous lawsuits, COVID-19 constraints, and irregularities in data. Congress stipulates that the data is due December 31, 2020; it is now estimated to be reported March 6, after President Biden takes over administration of the Census Bureau.

Earlier this week, the politically-appointed Director Steven Dillingham pushed for data about unauthorized immigrants, as well as other noncitizens in the U.S., to be released by the end of the week. This effort was stymied by the Inspector General demanding information about reports of improper pressure on civil servant employees from multiple whistleblowers.

I will be updating and then posting to SSRN my article "The Political (Mis)representation of Immigrants in the Census" for the NYU Law Review / Brennan Center Symposium on Voting and Representation. Stay tuned!


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