Census Bureau Stops Work On Trump’s Request For Unauthorized Immigrant Count

A demonstrator holds a sign that reads “Everyone Counts” outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, June 27, 2019. The Supreme Court issued a mixed decision on the Trump administration’s bid to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, saying the Commerce Department’s explanation for adding the question was inadequate. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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.

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. According to the 14th Amendment, those counts must include the “whole number of persons in each state.”

The president’s memo, which was issued in July, was found to be unlawful, unconstitutional or both by three lower courts last year before the Supreme Court ruled in December that it was too early for any court to weigh in because the case is “riddled with contingencies and speculation.”

Trump’s effort has already been hampered by schedule delays stemming from irregularities in the census records that, in addition to the coronavirus pandemic, have resulted in the bureau extending the time for running quality checks and pushing back the release for the first set of census results.

This week, a Justice Department attorney informed a federal judge that the state population counts needed for reapportioning House seats and electoral votes are not expected to be ready until March 6, more than a month into the administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who has condemned Trump’s attempt to exclude unauthorized immigrants.

By Hansi Lo Wang for NPR.ORG
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