(LOS ANGELES) – The U.S. Census Bureau plans to ask Congress to extend crucial 2020 Census deadlines because of the COVID-19 crisis. The bureau would end the collection of responses on October 31 and push the delivery of data used for apportionment to April 2021.

Please attribute the following statement to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF.

“The Census Bureau has prudently extended its enumeration efforts in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has concomitantly sought an extension of deadlines related to provision of data to be used in reapportionment of the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the redistricting of electoral boundaries within the states.  The extension should permit the collection of a more complete Census count if the Bureau appropriately focuses on the populations that have historically experienced greater undercounts in the decennial Census.

“Given the necessary increase in efforts and resources to accomplish a successful 2020 Census, the Bureau should not be expending any additional resources on its current effort to access administrative records in order to create a database on the population of citizens in this country.  Resources directed toward the unlawful collection of data under Executive Order 13880, issued July 11, 2019, are a dangerous diversion from the necessity of concentrating on Census 2020 in the Bureau and from accomplishing pandemic recovery efforts in other federal and state agencies.

“The self-evident reason for the Executive Order – aside from attempting to save face after an embarrassing loss in the Supreme Court and to avoid a trial on the Trump administration’s racially discriminatory intent in trying to add a citizenship question to Census 2020 itself – was to enable certain states to discount children and non-citizens in drawing electoral districts.  This illegitimate purpose must give way to appropriate efforts to concentrate on completing a successful Census 2020.

“MALDEF urges Congress, in acting to extend statutory data-reporting deadlines for the Census Bureau, to prohibit any further diversion of resources to comply with Executive Order 13880.”