The New Government Strategy With The 2020 Census: Stop Counting

Census 2020 BELatina Latinx
Photo Credit Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

After a failed political manipulation strategy, the government has finally dropped the mask of its intentions behind the 2020 Census.

According to NPR, the Census Bureau is “curtailing critical efforts to knock on the door” in its count this year, in what Democrats in Congress suspect is a strategy “for political gain.”

Three government agency employees told NPR on condition of anonymity that the effort to conduct in-person interviews will end on September 30 rather than October 31, as had been planned since April, on the grounds of “complications” during the coronavirus pandemic.

In internal meetings last Thursday, employees confirmed to NPR that “it will be impossible to complete the count in time,” which will likely result in “a massive undercount.”

Asked why and when the decision was made to move up the end of door-knocking, the Census Bureau replied in a written statement Friday: “We are currently evaluating our operations to enable the Census Bureau to provide this data in the most expeditious manner, and when those plans have been finalized we will make an announcement.”

Between erratic government communication, threats to the immigrant community, and the absence of a coherent strategy to address the COVID-19 crisis, currently in the United States, about 4 out of 10 households have not yet participated in the count.

In April, Trump-appointed Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who oversees the office, asked Congress to extend the legal deadlines for reporting census results. The office said it needed more time to complete the national count during the coronavirus pandemic.

Later that day, President Trump suggested that Congress had no option to approve the deadline extensions in light of the pandemic.

“This is called an act of God,” Trump said. “This is called a situation that has to be. They have to give it.”

Although households can respond online, the effort of the door knockers is critical to obtaining an accurate count of the total population in the country ⏤ especially people of color, immigrants and other historically undercounted groups ⏤ in a process that determines each state’s share of congressional seats, Electoral College votes and an estimated $1.5 trillion a year in federal tax dollars for Medicare, Medicaid, and other public services, NPR continued.

“The end result would be [overrepresentation] for the White non-Hispanic population, and greater undercounts for all other populations including the traditionally hard-to-count,” wrote Former Census Bureau Director John Thompson, on his testimony for a Wednesday hearing on the census before the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Arturo Vargas – CEO of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, which is helping to promote census participation – called the update “alarming.”

“We are concerned over what seems to be an abandonment of the request for the additional time that both the White House and Census Bureau have already acknowledged is required for a full and accurate census,” Vargas said in a statement. “It is too late now for the Bureau to change course, and the next COVID-19 relief legislation should reflect that reality.