A federal judge in California ruled against the Census Bureau and the Trump administration yesterday. The judge ordered the Census Bureau to continue the count of the U.S. population until October 31. This ruling is critically important to Latinos everywhere because the allocation of federal funds and political power for the next 10 years is based on the Census.
The Census Bureau had previously requested that Congress extend the time allowed to achieve a complete and accurate count, due to the pandemic. When the Congress failed to approve the request, the Census Bureau withdrew its request in August.
In September, Trump issued a memorandum ordering the Census Bureau to complete the count by September 31, and deliver the data to his office by December 31, instead of the originally requested date of April 30, 2021.
Trump wanted the count ended faster to give him time to exclude undocumented immigrants for reapportionment purposes, thereby reshuffling the allocation political power, namely in numeric size of a congressional district and the number of such districts allocated to each state. A federal panel ruled against that proposition and the matter is now before the Supreme Court.
The Census Bureau yesterday instructed all its personnel, including enumerators, to continue the count through October 31. This is especially important to people of color, many of whom reside in hard-to-count communities. People of color have historically been undercounted, even when the country was not in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
Latinos are particularly hard to count because millions have seasonal jobs that keep them moving from state to state. There is also an almost insurmountable distrust of the government and millions of Latinos are reluctant to provide the information requested. Children are especially hard to count. The 2010 Census missed four million children under five years of age. One fourth of those children were Latinos.
An undercount of Latinos reduces the amount of federal funds to Latino communities, as well as political representation, two things Latinos can ill-afford to lose. This court ruling, adding one more month to complete the 2020 Census, should increase the possibility of a more complete and accurate Census count of the U.S. population, which will benefit Latinos.