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Census officials say they can’t meet Trump’s census deadline

In a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to remove unauthorized immigrants from the total census values ​​used for redistribution, Census Bureau officials concluded that they could not calculate the total population of the state needed to redistribute seats in The House of Representatives until President Trump leaves office in January

The president said in July that he planned to remove unauthorized immigrants from the census for the first time in history, leaving an older and whiter population as the basis for dividing House seats, a shift that is likely to increase the number of House seats held by Republicans over the next decade.

But on Wednesday, according to three bureau officials, the Census Bureau told the Commerce Department that the growing number of problems in the large-scale population-generating data processing operation has delayed the completion of population calculations until at least Jan. 26, and maybe by mid-February. These officials spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals by the Trump administration.

Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department controls the bureau, was notified of the detention on Wednesday night, these people and others said. The Ministry of Trade did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The director of the Census Bureau, Stephen Dillingham, acknowledged the delay in a statement issued Thursday, but did not rule out explicitly providing a total amount for redistribution before the end of Mr Trump’s term.

“Certain processing abnormalities were found during post-harvest processing,” the statement said. “This type of processing anomaly has occurred in past censuses. I urge the Census Bureau to use all available resources to resolve this as soon as possible. As all the time, our goal remains an accurate and statistically sound census. “

It is unclear whether Mr Dillingham’s directive will force the bureau to overcome the obstacles that the delay in processing poses to Mr Trump’s plan to violate the age-old formula for allocating seats in Parliament.

By law, the White House must send a state census next year, which will be used to redistribute seats in the chamber among states. By order of Mr. Trump, the Census Bureau is trying to compile a separate state by state of unauthorized immigrants so that their numbers can be subtracted from the official census results before they are sent to the House.

That cannot happen – and Mr Trump’s plan will become controversial – if the general count is not completed before Mr Trump leaves office on January 20.

It is possible, however, that the administration will order the bureau to provide data on the population of the states before the expiration of the president’s term, regardless of the data processing problems that affect its accuracy. But census experts said it was unclear whether the bureau’s career staff – data researchers and other experts dedicated to the exact number of chapters – would carry out such an order or resign en masse instead.

If the Trump administration does conduct a state census, and the bureau refuses to take office after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes office, the agency’s refusal to do so and the methodology that did it are likely to become in an important factor in the ongoing litigation under the Trump administration’s plan.

“If you do it inaccurately,” says Dale Ho, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, “you are moving further away from what the creators intended, which is the only, objective mathematical number of the population that is indisputable. and that it provides a basis for representation in the Chamber that is resistant to political manipulation. “

The Supreme Court is scheduled to consider allegations this month that Mr Trump’s order violates the Constitution’s mandate to use “the entire number of people” in each state to allocate seats in the House. Mr Ho argued the case before a three-judge panel in New York, and in September won a unanimous decision that Mr Trump’s order exceeded his powers under federal census and redistribution laws.

Two other federal courts in California and Maryland have also ruled that it is unconstitutional and unconstitutional to remove undocumented immigrants from the number of distributions.

The consequences of the president’s order extend far beyond the hall. Excluding unauthorized immigrants from the general population can drastically change the distribution of federal dollars for a wide range of services, usually moving grants and government resources from cities to less populated areas.

Mr Trump’s order wreaked havoc in a decade on the number of heads already devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, which had nearly halted the census. In April, after many stalemates, the bureau asked Congress to extend the deadline for redistributing amounts from the statutory deadline of December 31 to April 2021.

But in July, Mr. Trump abruptly reversed the course, ordering the December 31 deadline to be met. This forced experts from the Census Bureau to compress five months of data processing into two and a half months.

In deposits this fall in a California lawsuit, Census Bureau officials said the agency could only meet the new schedule if it could avoid problems with software and data that were common to previous censuses. The delays unveiled on Wednesday, officials said, only brought home how difficult it was.

“No one should read anything disgusting about these anomalies or the problems they cause,” said one census official. “These are typical processing anomalies that occur at every census. We tried our best to reduce the schedule and we knew that something like this could happen. And he did. “

This summer and fall, the White House put the highest ranks in the Census Bureau, apparently to ensure that Mr. Trump’s redistribution strategy is implemented. In recent weeks, these appointees have become increasingly insistent that both the assessment of unauthorized immigrants and the actual census need to be rushed to the end, according to people both inside and outside the bureau.

The census is traditionally evaluated for the accuracy and precision of the data it provides. Terry Ann Loventhal, a census consultant for a number of companies, governments and non-profit organizations pushing for an accurate census, called the reports of political pressure on the census worrying.

“The bureau’s reported inability to complete the distribution numbers while President Trump is still in office could lead to some political pressure that could affect the accuracy of the final figures,” she said. “And that would be very unfortunate.”

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