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Politics & Policy

Census Bureau to Trump Admin: Drop Dead

I’ve written here a few times about the Trump administration’s intention to remove illegal immigrants from the census count for purposes of apportionment. (This would give places with lots of illegal immigrants less representation in the House.) I’ve been highly skeptical that this is legal. And it’s been clear for a while that the Census Bureau might not get its work done in time for the current administration to finish the process.

But I’ll admit I’m a bit surprised by this NPR story:

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. . . .

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.”

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.

If nothing else, this escapade shows there really is a “deep state” capable of overriding the administration officials who are supposed to be in charge, for good or ill.


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