Story at a glance

  • President Trump ordered the Department of Commerce to collect citizenship information through the census.
  • A watchdog group raised concerns that this process was being rushed at the cost of the census itself.
  • The Census Bureau has halted the collection and processing of citizenship data, according to a memo from the agency’s director.

The Census Bureau has halted the Trump administration's attempts to collect information about citizenship status as part of the 2020 census, according to a Wednesday memo from director Steven D. Dillingham informing the Inspector General (IG) of his order to “stand down.”

 

After the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration had not provided a suitable explanation for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, the President issued an executive order directing the Department of Commerce to collect citizenship information by other means in order to ensure that noncitizens do not "depend" on public resources or benefits. 


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In the memo, Dillingham said the Census Bureau collected and processed citizenship data for almost a year and a half, but stopped after the bureau's internal watchdog prompted questions from the IG’s office. Several whistleblowers reported a directive to make a report on citizenship information "a number one priority," raising concerns that “incomplete data could be misinterpreted, misused, or otherwise tarnish the Bureau’s reputation,” according to a memo from IG Peggy Gustafson.

"One senior Bureau employee went as far to say that this work is statistically indefensible," Gustafson said in the memo. 

Dillingham claimed a technical report was only "suggested" and that the deputy director was told "no one should feel pressured." 

"The Director was not informed that work by three analysts for a short period this past week would negatively impact work on apportionment data processing which extends over many months and is performed by far more than a hundred staff," said Dillingham in his memo. 


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Published on Jan 14, 2021