Census director says he learned of Trump citizenship move ‘when it was posted on the web’

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Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham told the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday he only became aware of a recent presidential directive excluding undocumented immigrants from the census’s congressional representation calculations “when it was posted on the web.”

Dillingham reportedly said he wasn’t involved in the planning of President Trump’s executive order last week blocking undocumented immigrants from being counted in the 2020 census for the purpose of allocating House seats.

The order, which was swiftly met with multiple legal challenges, follows the administration’s ultimately abandoned attempt to add a question about citizenship to the census.

Dillingham told the panel he could not say whether the bureau would need additional time for the census due to the coronavirus pandemic, saying those discussions were “not at my level” and that he had been focusing on progressing “as rapidly as possible and to get a complete and accurate count as soon as possible,” CNN reported.

While the Trump administration said earlier in the spring that it would need another four months to complete the census due to the pandemic, numerous House Democrats have said the White House has backtracked on the request.

Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.), during his questioning of Dillingham, suggested he has allowed the Trump administration to politicize the bureau.

“It seems like there’s an obvious pattern that you are not in control of the Census Bureau, and the political appointees of this administration are,” Gomez said.  

Dillingham declined to speak about his feelings on the executive order, saying he is “not in a position where I can express my opinions with regard to the policy.”

“I cannot answer or even give my personal views because my job as the Census Bureau director will be to execute the 2020 census,” he said.

“We have experts at the Census Bureau that are now beginning the process of looking at methodologies,” Dillingham added. “That process is just beginning. The presidential memoranda just came out last week.”

Tags 2020 Census Census Bureau Donald Trump Jimmy Gomez Steven Dillingham

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