Crusader Staff Report
The 2020 census will end October 5, despite a federal judge’s ruling last week allowing the head count of every U.S. resident to continue through the end of October.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Monday, September 28 said the ability of people to self-respond to the census questionnaire, and the door-knocking phase when census takers go to homes that haven’t yet responded, are targeted to end October 5.
The decision came days after a federal judge in California recently ruled that the deadline for the 2020 census can continue through October 31.
In her ruling September 24, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, issued a preliminary injunction preventing the Census Bureau’s September 30 deadline from going into effect.
That deadline was set in August after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced changes to the updated plan that include a December 31 deadline to report the count to President Donald Trump.
The National Urban League and several other groups, including the city of Los Angeles, had sued the government, asking for a preliminary injunction to block the government from concluding the count on September 30.
“The court’s decision affirms our contention that changes to the census schedule will irreparably harm the integrity of the 2020 Census and result in a devastating undercount of vulnerable communities,” said Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League.
“Career officials at the Census Bureau opposed the shortened schedule precisely for these reasons, and to avoid the perception of political manipulation, and we are confident that integrity and equity will win out over the partisan vandalism that threatens our democracy.”
Derrick Johnson, president and CEO, NAACP, said in a statement, “In the face of a global pandemic, the last thing we should consider is cutting short the decennial census that has long-lasting repercussions on the well-being, health, and livelihood of so many Americans. The decision to continue the census will ensure proper attention is given to overlooked and unreported areas that need to be counted the most.”
Nana Gyamfi, executive director, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, said “We are pleased with the court’s ruling, affirming what we already know – every person counts and must be counted in this 2020 census. For the Black community, this decision means we have extra time to claim the governmental resources and representation that we’ve been denied. We look forward to continuing the important work of making sure our community members are counted by the census deadline.”
In a statement after the ruling, Los Angeles’ City Attorney Mike Feuer said the ruling was a big victory in achieving a more accurate Census count. Feuer also said he feels the Trump administration caused the abbreviated deadline.
“The court saw through the Trump administration’s efforts to camouflage its political interference in what is supposed to be the neutral, nonpartisan process of counting every person,” Feuer said in a statement. “Now, with little time to lose and so much at stake, I urge everyone to take the few moments necessary to be included in the census.”
Before her ruling, Koh at a late Tuesday hearing, signaled concern with the decision to move up the end date from October 31. Koh hinted that it is unlikely the Census Bureau will reach its own 99% standard for completion by the end of September.
“Four out of 50 states reached the threshold for closing,” she said, referencing the Census Bureau’s latest data. “Why is the bureau insisting on ending data collection in seven days? … That means 46 states have not met the requirements yet.”
Alexander Sverdlov, an attorney representing the government, argued that delays in the case are hurting the Census Bureau’s ability to execute the census count under deadlines.
Internal documents revealed that Census Bureau officials were worried about completing the count before September 30.
“It is ludicrous to think we can complete 100 percent of the nation’s data collection earlier than 10/31 and any thinking person who would believe we can deliver apportionment by 12/31 has either a mental deficiency or a political motivation,” wrote Tim Olson, who oversees the massive operation that sends employees door-to-door at households that have not responded to the survey.
The census is used to allocate federal dollars to cities and seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.
President Donald Trump is appealing the latest ruling. The Trump administration has exerted unprecedented political influence over the survey in ways that critics say will advantage Republicans in upcoming elections. In 2019, a federal court ruled against the Trump administration, which wanted a question on the census asking U.S. residents whether they are citizens.