Andrew Harnik / AP
Updated at 2:32 am Friday
The Census Bureau is slowing short-term critical efforts to knock on the door for the 2020 census amid growing concerns among Democrats in Congress that the White House is pushing the Bureau to close quickly for political gain, teaches NPR.
Attempts by Bureau staff to conduct in-person interviews for the census will end on 30 September – not October 31, the end date indicated back in April will be required to count each person. living in the United States due to major disadvantages. from the coronavirus pandemic. Three Census Bureau employees, who were briefed on the plans at separate internal meetings on Thursday, confirmed the new end date with NPR. All employees spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs.
“It will be impossible to complete the count on time,” says one of the Bureau employees, an area manager who oversees local census offices. “I’m very afraid we’re going to have a massive undervaluation.”
Asked why and when the decision was made to leave the doors closed, the Census Bureau responded in a written statement on Friday: “We are currently assessing our operations to make it possible for the Office of -Census provides this data in the fastest way and when those plans have been finalized we will make a announcement. “
About 4 out of 10 families in a national country have not yet participated in the constitutionally mandated number of every person living in the United States, and self-response rates are even lower in many communities.
This month, the Bureau began using door-to-door doors to visit unanswered homes in certain parts of the country. Efforts to knock on the door are expected to leave the country on 11 August
It is unclear how long longer families can send census responses on their own by going online, by phone and by mail. The Bureau’s website – which recently listed Thursday 31 October as the end of the “personal response phase” that began in March – now reads that the phase will last until the end of on-site data collection.
The time it takes to knock on the condensed door increases the risk of excluding many people of color, immigrants and other members of groups historically underestimated by numbers that are collected once every ten years to determine the share of each state 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.
Former Census Bureau Director John Thompson warns that with less time, the Bureau will likely have to reduce the number of door-to-door attempts to try to gather information in person. . The agency may also have to rely heavily on statistical methods to impute data on people living in inaccessible households.
“The end result would be [over-representation] for the non-Spanish White population and larger sub-accounts for all other populations including the traditionally difficult to count, “Thompson wrote in written testimony for a hearing on the census before the Committee on Oversight and Reform Room on Wednesday.
This change in last-minute scheduling for the largest and most expensive operation for the 2020 census comes as the bureau was sending mixed signals publicly about its plans to end the count.
In April, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Trump’s nominee to oversee the bureau, called on Congress to extend the legal deadlines for reporting census results because the bureau said there was a need of extra time to complete the national count of the head during the coronavirus pandemic.
Later that same day, President Trump suggested that Congress had no choice in approving deadlines in light of the pandemic.
“This is called an act of God,” Trump said. “It’s called a situation you have to be in. They have to give it up.”
So far, only Democrats have introduced legislation at the request of the Bureau.
On Wednesday, the Bureau quietly updated its website and removed a key reference to 31 October, the previously announced end date for conducting follow-up visits. The bureau’s website now says it is “working to complete data collection as soon as possible, as it strives to comply with the law and statutory deadlines.”
Arturo Vargas – Chief Executive of the National Association of Elected and Appointed Latino Education Funds, which is helping to promote census participation – called the update “alarming.”
“We are concerned about what appears to be an abandonment of the request for additional time that both the White House and the Census Bureau have already recognized is necessary for a full and accurate census,” Vargas said in a statement. “It is now too late for the Bureau to change course, and the next COVID-19 exemption legislation should reflect that reality.”
The White House, according to the Bureau’s updated web page, has called for an additional $ 1 billion to fund “accelerated efforts” to complete the count “as quickly and safely as possible.” In their proposal for aid relief released on Monday, Republicans in Congress offered less than half that amount without deadline extensions.
At a hearing on Wednesday before the House oversight committee, Steven Dillingham – the director of the Bureau and Trump’s nominee – gave lawmakers some insight into why the change was made in the House. time.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., Repeatedly asked Dillingham if he supported the Bureau’s request to extend the census deadlines.
But Dillingham did not answer the questions.
Asked by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., If he was aware that the Trump administration allegedly wants to shut down quickly to help the president be able to receive census division numbers by the end of the year, Dillingham responded: “I” am not aware of all the many reasons except to say that the Census Bureau and others really want us to proceed as quickly as possible. “
But top career officials at the bureau – including Tim Olson, the associate director for field operations – have publicly warned since May that the agency can no longer meet current deadlines.
Pressed by Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Dillingham said he “can’t agree” with Olson’s assessment, noting that the office has “many more assessments ahead of us.”
“President Trump and Mitch McConnell are asking the American people to fund the political manipulation of our democracy,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney, DN.Y., chair of the House oversight committee, said in a statement after the hearing. “Speeding up the census to complete means that census workers will not have enough time to follow up on the lack of responses, an essential operation designed to find and count the communities that most reach them.”
The office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., And the White House press office did not respond to NPR’s comment requests.
The pandemic has forced the Bureau to find alternative places to board newly hired census workers, and the Bureau expects public health concerns to increase the number of people who do not appear to be trained or work.
By the end date of October 31 for the granting of doors is likely to throw the census, which has already been reinforced by months of delay, deeper because trouble hundreds of thousands of Bureau door actors try to figure out how to interview the person as many states turn up with outbreaks of coronavirus growing in the middle of hurricane season.
“That date means nothing to me after today,” a Census Bureau official told NPR on Wednesday, where he spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from superiors to speak.
“It’s embarrassing because we’ve been discussing this in presentations and in conversations with staff,” the official added. “I’m hurt ‘that’ suddenly ‘changed their minds.”
News of the September 30 end date for knocking on doors apparently had not reached all Bureau staff until Thursday morning, when Jeff Behler, director for the bureau’s regional office New York said during a press conference that local census offices in New England, New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico were still scheduled to continue visiting insensitive homes until the end of October.
“Are we doing anything to hurry?” Behler said during the briefing organized by the Association for Better New York. “I mean, not really.”
On Wednesday, during a full hearing of unanswered answers and a roundabout to questions from lawmakers, Dillingham seemed confident on at least one topic.
The director of the Census Bureau testified that he first learned of Trump’s plans to try to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the census numbers used to reinstate seats in Congress not from internal discussions, but from a “late Friday” news report that said, “Such a directive could go down.”
“I will swear all day under oath,” Dillingham said after Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Who looks incredible in some remote video, reminded him that he was testifying under oath.
Gomez, another member of the House who joined the remote hearing for Dillingham’s question, left the Bureau director with a stern warning before moving away from the camera.
“There seems to be an obvious trend that you are not in control of the Census Bureau,” Gomez said. “Your name will go down in history if this is the worst census ever conducted by the U.S. government. You’re not going to run away and say it was only because of the Trump administration later. You’re going to be responsible . “