Census Bureau can't meet Trump's deadline for data on undocumented immigrants: report

The Census Bureau cannot meet President TrumpDonald John TrumpManufacturers association calls on GSA to begin transition process Biden vote tally getting close to 80 million Brent Budowsky wins The Hill’s 2020 election prediction contest MORE’s deadline to report data on the number of undocumented immigrants surveyed in the census before Inauguration Day, The New York Times reported Thursday. 

Three bureau officials told the Times that the bureau informed the Department of Commerce that the president’s request for state-by-state data on the population could not be fulfilled before he leaves office.

Trump said over the summer he planned to remove unauthorized immigrants from the state counts, which are used to reallocate seats in the House. 

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The bureau officials said issues in the data-processing, which have occurred in other years, have led to delays that expect to push back the completion of totals until at least Jan. 26 and maybe mid-February. 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossOn The Money: Trump makes a late pitch on the economy | US economy records record GDP gains after historic COVID-19 drop | Pelosi eyes big COVID-19 deal in lame duck It’s time to reckon with space junk Census Bureau to hold count through end of October MORE, whose department oversees the bureau, was told of the postponement on Wednesday evening, the officials and others said.

Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham released a statement Thursday saying “certain processing anomalies have been discovered” during the data processing stage.

“These types of processing anomalies have occurred in past censuses,” he said. “I am directing the Census Bureau to utilize all resources available to resolve this as expeditiously as possible. As it has been all along, our goal remains an accurate and statistically sound Census.”

The Commerce Department did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.

Trump had pledged to remove undocumented immigrants from the census count, straying from the centuries-old process, which would likely increase the number of House seats held by Republicans for the next 10 years.  

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The White House is required to send a state-by-state count to the House next year to move forward with reallocation. But the president requested a separate tally of unauthorized immigrants with the intention of subtracting those numbers from the state totals ahead of reporting to the lower chamber. 

Removing unauthorized immigrants from the count could also dramatically change how federal funding is allocated for different government services, bringing more funding from cities to less populated locations, the Times noted.  

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments over whether Trump’s instruction to remove unauthorized immigrants from the count violates the Constitution, which requires “the whole number of persons” in each state to be counted.

Federal courts in New York, California and Maryland have rejected the president’s move as unconstitutional. 

In most years, the Census data collection would need to be finished by Dec. 31, but Congress extended the deadline amid the coronavirus pandemic to April 2021. However, over the summer, Trump demanded the Dec. 31 deadline be met. 

Census Bureau officials said in depositions over the fall that the deadline could only be met if there were no software and data glitches that occurred in previous censuses. 

“Nobody should read anything nefarious about these anomalies or the problems they are causing,” one census official told the Times. “These are typical processing anomalies that happen with every census. We tried our best to crunch the schedule, and we knew something like this might happen. And it did.”

But some experts still worry that political appointees involved in the process will continue to pressure the bureau to finish the count by Dec. 31, which they say could lead to inaccurate data.

Updated at 4:46 p.m.

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