Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that its ending all counting efforts, including door knocks, responses by mail, over the phone and online, for the 2020 census on Sept. 30 — a month sooner than previously announced.
The last minute change imposed by the Trump administration, could threaten the accuracy of population numbers, especially communities of color that are historically underrepresented and underfunded. More than 60 million households have yet to be counted with just five weeks until the collection of responses end.
“We need the extra time to be able to ensure that the hardest-to-count communities are including in the count. That is what the Constitution requires,” says Vanita Gupta, a former Obama administration official who now heads The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “There is no other reason for the Trump administration to be rushing the census if they didn’t have a partisan or illegitimate motive.”
Keeping with the Dec. 31 legal deadline for producing the latest state population counts would guarantee that President Trump receives those numbers while still in office, even if he is not reelected.
With little authority, Trump is seeking to change those numbers by attempting to exclude unauthorized immigrants despite the Constitution’s requirement to include the “whole number of persons in each state.” The president’s recent memo calling for that change has sparked multiple federal lawsuits from challengers who are asking courts to block the administration from carrying it out and declare it unconstitutional.
More than four in ten North Carolina households have yet to fill out the census which determines the distribution of political representation and federal funding for the next decade.
North Carolina is expected to gain a congressional seat based on this count and billions in federal funding from Census guided federal programs.
Four former Census Bureau directors warn that not extending census reporting deadlines “will result in seriously incomplete enumerations in many areas across our country”, according to NPR.
Federal law requires the Census Bureau to send population totals to the president by Dec. 31 of every census year. Due to the pandemic, census officials pushed the deadline to April 2021.
In May, the House approved the new deadline, yet in Trump-like fashion, the Republican-controlled Senate has not followed suit. Congress remains without an approved request for an extension to the 2020 Census.
This also comes as more than 40 million people across the country could be at risk of eviction, leading to a high risk of being undercounted.
This abrupt change will impact funding and representation for every community around the country. Our lawmakers cannot let this administration shutoff a decade worth of resources for our families, communities, and schools. Our lawmakers must demand for an extension to the census so that everyone is counted.
If you haven’t filled out the census, here are ways to do it: