Donald Trump’s administration has engaged in ‘unprecedented’ interference in the national census, according to a recently leaked email that reveals how officials tried to meddle in a project that helps determine political representation and the distribution of government resources for a decade.
According to an email memo written by a deputy director of the Census Bureau, the administration not only sought to stop the 2020 census early, as previously reported, but also lobbied the Census Bureau to change its procedures to ensure data accuracy and protect Americans’ privacy. The memo was first reported by NPR.
Census Bureau Deputy Director Ron Jarmin shared a memo with two other senior census officials in September 2020, warning that Trump appointees to the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, “ showed an unusually high degree of commitment to technical matters”. .” This commitment, according to the memo, was “unprecedented compared to previous censuses”.
The memo was obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice in a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act. Documents obtained by the Brennan Center “suggest that the Trump administration attempted to exert extreme partisan influence on the Census Bureau,” the center said. in a report.
The Trump administration ended the 2020 census early in part because it hoped that if Trump lost the election, he could use census population estimates to redistribute representation in the House while he was still in office. to be able to, according to The New York Times. By concluding the once-a-decade count early, the census risked missing harder-to-reach populations such as immigrants, and could have undercounted up to 6.5 million people, primarily “Hispanic, immigrant and born abroad. Census Bureau directors testified before Congress. To further favor the GOP in redistribution, the Trump administration insisted that undocumented immigrants be counted separately from the population. The administration also attempted to add a citizenship question to the census, but was denied by a federal judge.
Senior officials in the office said they were “also concerned about the level of [the administration’s] direct engagement with the methodology” of the census, which they said was the responsibility of the Census Bureau as an independent agency, not the presidential administration. “While the presidential memorandum may be a statement of administration policy,” the memo states, “the Census Bureau views the development of methodology and processes as its responsibility as an independent statistical agency.”
Census data affects representation in Congress and the drawing of electoral districts, but it also determines how much funding each community will receive from billions of federal dollars for essential services, such as schools, roads, hospitals and health services. fire services.