In 2017, a government regulator included the 2020 census on its “high risk” list, sounding the alarm to the public and legislators that vital numbers over the past decade face almost insurmountable challenges.
The company that originally printed the forms went bankrupt. As the census was launched online for the first time, there was a shortage of recruits, critical operational tests were cut, and there were loopholes in network security, and the Trump administration’s failed attempts to add citizenship issues disrupted everyone’s top priorities.
Today, with the global coronavirus pandemic destroying the U.S. economy and daily life, the census is facing a logistical nightmare to avoid what experts say may become a decade-long error that will make the U.S. in the next few years The balance of power is biased.
On Monday, the Census Bureau announced that it would end the liquidation work one month earlier on September 30. This move caused shock among researchers, demographers, civil rights organizations, local community leaders, and immigrant rights organizations.
“Even under the best circumstances, the census is a huge challenge, and very, very difficult.”
He added: “This is once every ten years.” “There is nothing superfluous.”
Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in a statement on the bureau’s website that the agency will end all its counting work on September 30, which means that all of them are knocking on the door and collecting The enumerated investigators will collect online responses from people who have not yet mastered their own information, and responses via email or telephone will stop their efforts. He said that the self-reply option will also be closed on that date, while ensuring that the agency will strive for accuracy.
At the same time, according to data from the Census Bureau, approximately 63% of households responded. There are still 58 million households to count, and the agency now has about seven weeks to calculate the entire population.
Many of them live in hard-to-reach areas of the country, such as rural areas and communities without Internet access. Indigenous tribes, the rapidly growing Latino population, Asian Americans and Black Americans are also disproportionately affected, and these people are historically underestimated compared to the white population.
Mihm said: “Can it be done? Of course it can be done.” “But it will be extremely difficult to do this and achieve the historical accuracy they want.”
He said that if this were not the case, there might be a situation where the number of white Americans is even higher, and the number of non-white communities is greatly underestimated, which distorts what he calls a “national snapshot.”
The census is used to determine the number of members of the House of Representatives assigned to each state and the re-election of congressional districts. It also affected the dispersion of billions of dollars in federal aid.
Currently, local leaders and governments across the country are stepping up their efforts to ensure that communities will not miss the US$1.5 trillion allocated for the next ten years. This money is used in hospitals, schools, public transportation, and small businesses, which are many of the main drivers of daily life and the economy, but COVID-19 has reversed these driving forces.
Local governments and community groups conduct outreach campaigns to people to remind them that they are in danger.
Nearly two states have invested millions of dollars to support the efforts of the federal government. For fear of losing political power, California has invested nearly US$200 million in propaganda activities; Illinois has allocated US$30.5 million; New York, US$20 million; Washington State’s budget is US$15 million according to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures. Other states invested less than US$10 million in this effort.
New York City Census Director Julie Menin said: “Although the Trump administration continues to present us with challenges, we will work hard to bring every New Yorker into account.”
The Census Bureau’s one-month cut was also released after President Donald Trump signed a memorandum in July, which aims to prohibit undocumented immigrants living in the country from being included in the census to determine the allocation to each Congress How many members of Congress. State.
New York City and other state and local governments have filed lawsuits against the executive branch, claiming it is unconstitutional.
Meining said: “This is indeed an insidious way to make cities with large immigrant communities lose their representatives in Congress and move them to red Republican areas.” “This is the purpose of the entire battle.”
Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Bureau, said her organization has carried out direct publicity to emphasize the importance of the census, and has seen the memo and cut the deadline because the government has invested in it. The latest effort.
She said: “There is no doubt that this is not just a pre-election malicious and undemocratic move.” “Its impact is real, and communities that have been marginalized since the birth of the country will be hit hard for a decade. .”
She said: “Immigrants are people, and they must be given the opportunity to be counted.” “We can’t return to our country, where people are not considered complete human beings.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the agency closed its operations from March to early June. The agency requested a bipartisan action this spring to extend its statutory deadline of December 31 to four months before April 30, 2021. Distribution data given to the president will be extended by July 31, 2021. The data is redistributed to the states instead of March 31. , 2021. However, this law was shelved.
On August 4, four former chiefs of the Census Bureau who had served the presidents of the Democratic and Republican parties issued an alarm, warning that shortening the deadline would “cause serious incomplete investigations in many parts of the country”.
About 900 countries and community organizations also wrote to Senate leaders on August 6, urging them to add clauses to the next Coronavirus Relief Act to prevent the increase in the number of censuses.
They wrote: “If the remaining count of votes is not done well, then the communities that most need resources to improve the quality of life and standard of living will be in trouble in the next ten years.”
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Caroline Maloney (DN.Y.), the chair of the powerful House Oversight Committee, introduced the Fair and Accurate Census Act in May, which will extend the deadline and provide the agency with more resources. She said that this measure is likely to pass the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, but it is unlikely to vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The “Heroes Act” is a large-scale coronavirus assistance program that passed the House of Representatives in May this year. It also includes similar wording to extend the census deadline and increase the agency’s budget.
Maloney said she believes that the fight to extend the legal deadline and defeat the President’s memo is also going on in court because the census is “part of our democracy.”
She said: “We have to get to the Supreme Court.” “People say we can’t do it fast enough, and I can’t accept it. We have to do it. We have to send it to the Supreme Court very quickly and through the entire court system, because it’s very fast. Much depends on it.”