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Census officials find data problems that could delay completion, internal documents show

This delay would mean that the Trump administration will not be able to carry out its plan to exclude undocumented immigrants in the division of seats in the US House of Representatives, as President Donald Trump leaves office on January 20. Several federal courts have blocked the policy, and the Supreme Court heard arguments on Monday.

Several of the problems are “highly complex” and improper handling would tip the number or less or more in some areas, the documents said. Problems include the ways in which the Census Bureau reports multiple responses and non-address-specific responses.

The documents do not specify the exact scope of the biggest problems. But according to the documents, an additional 20 days are needed for data processing, with completion in late January or early February.

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday, Carolyn Supervisory and Reform Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney said the documents did not come from Ross despite the commission̵

7;s requests for them last month. She threatened to summon him if he did not provide additional documents.

“Despite the obstruction of the Trump administration, the Committee has now received several internal documents from the Census Bureau from another source, which not only confirm these press releases but indicate that unresolved errors may be more extensive than originally reported.” writes Maloney. “I am writing to urge you to end the obstruction of the Committee’s investigation into this critical issue and to submit a complete and unedited set of documents requested by the Committee. If you refuse, the Committee will have no choice but to issue a summons.”

Steve Dillingham, director of the Census Bureau, acknowledged the census issues in a November statement.

“During processing after collection, certain processing anomalies were found,” he said at the time. “This type of processing anomaly has occurred in past censuses.”

Officials expected some problems, such as two different answers for one household, and had plans to deal with them, but Dillingham and other census officials did not explain the nature of the problem in November.

That census was about to be completed by “the first or second week of January,” said Al Fontenot, a career officer leading the 2020 census, in late October.

But achieving that goal “implies that a reasonably smooth sequence of processing events will occur,” Fontenot said at the time. “If they are not smooth enough, we will have to take extra time.”

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