The Journal Gazette
Thursday, January 14, 2021 1:00 am

Census decision deals blow to Trump efforts on House seats

MIKE SCHNEIDER | Associated Press

President Donald Trump's effort to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from being counted in the process for divvying up congressional seats was dealt another blow Wednesday when the Census Bureau's director indefinitely halted an effort to gather data on the citizenship status of every U.S. resident.

Bureau workers laboring to comply with the Trump order were instructed to “ 'stand down' and discontinue their data reviews,” Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in a memo.

A review indicated problems with the data that would require additional work, Dillingham said.

Dillingham's memo came after the Office of Inspector General reported Tuesday that bureau workers were under significant pressure from two Trump political appointees, Nathaniel Cogley and Benjamin Overholt, to figure out who is in the U.S illegally, using federal and state administrative records. Bureau statisticians worried that any citizenship figures they were forced to produce would be incomplete, misinterpreted and tarnish the statistical agency's reputation, the inspector general said in a memo.

The ability to implement Trump's apportionment order is in jeopardy since the processing of the data is not scheduled to be done until early March because irregularities discovered during the numbers-crunching phase of the 2020 census need to be fixed, Trump administration attorneys said Monday.

That revised deadline dealt another blow to the apportionment order because it is weeks after Trump leaves office and President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in Jan. 20. Biden has said he opposes the effort, and Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, which had challenged the apportionment order, urged Biden on Wednesday to rescind it when he takes office.

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