This week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced it would end its efforts to count the number of people living in the country on Sept. 30, a month earlier than anticipated.
The Washington Census Alliance, a coalition of more than 90 Black and Brown-led community organizations across Washington state, condemned the decision—saying the rushed timeline will exacerbate the undercount of people of color, immigrants, and rural communities that have not yet completed the census online, by phone, or by mail.
Asian Counseling Referral Service Director of Policy and Civic Engagement Shomya Tripathy.
Said called the move “an irresponsible and deeply damaging attempt to short change historically undercounted communities.” AAPI communities already have a history of being undercounted in the census, she said. “Our communities deserve resources like education, healthcare, and transit, regardless of language accessibility or internet access, but the decision from the Census Bureau indicates that is not the case.”
Nearly 63% of U.S. households have responded to the census so far, and the bureau said the recent change was part of an effort to meet the federal deadline, delivering the counts to President Trump by the end of the year.
This decision was made in the same week that Trump floated the idea of delaying the November Presidential election. It also comes on the heels of an announcement that, for the first time ever, the Census Bureau will start to send emails to households in low responding areas, and may also send text messages.
Recent data released from the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey show that the Census Bureau is significantly more likely to have email addresses of those who are white, over 35, and college educated. These emails will likely serve to further compound inequities in census coverage.
Washington Census Alliance Director Kamau Chege called the move a shameful, concerted effort to try and erase Black and Brown communities.
“Now, it’s up to Congress to take swift action and extend the deadline for the census data that’ll be used for redistricting and distributing congressional representation. We’re in uncharted territory with the Census taking place during COVID-19 and Congress needs to make sure the Census Bureau counts everyone,” he said.
Trump tried unsuccessfully to add a citizenship question to the census, then he ordered the Census Bureau not to count undocumented immigrants—an order being challenged in court, and will likely be found to be unconstitutional. The U.S. Constitution specifically requires the census to count all “persons.”
This is just one more tactic Trump is deploying to help Republicans and preserve his political power. It will likely take action from our state’s congressional delegation to get the deadline pushed back, so contact your senator and representative and push them to do the right thing.