Federal Judge Orders Census Bureau to Extend Deadline to Oct. 31

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A federal judge ordered the U.S. Census Bureau to extend the population count through Oct. 31. The decision comes just four days after Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced on Twitter that U.S. residents would have until Oct. 5 to complete the 2020 Census.

The order by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh ordered the bureau to inform its employees in a text message that the Oct. 5 deadline “is not operative, and stating that data collection operations will continue through October 31, 2020.” Koh’s order comes days after she told federal government attorneys that the Oct. 5 deadline was a “violation” of her earlier ruling.

Ross announced a target date of Oct. 5 to end the census self-response and field data collections operation, a Sept. 28 tweet by the Census Bureau said. The Census Bureau originally had a Sept. 30 deadline to complete the headcount. That deadline was extended to an older plan that saw an end to field operations on Oct. 31, USA Today reported.

On Sept. 24, Koh issued a preliminary injunction order that stopped the bureau from “implementing” a Dec. 31 deadline for getting the population counts to President Donald Trump. Koh sided with civil rights organizations and local governments that sued the Trump administration over the shortened deadline that could affect the census.

Federal government attorneys argued that the population count needed to end on Sept. 30 in order to meet the Dec. 31 reporting deadline.

Internal emails and documents released by the administration revealed Ross then chose to complete field operations on Oct. 5 to meet the Dec. 31 reporting deadline, according to NPR. Ross was given the option to continue the census count past Oct. 5 to further “the goal of complete and accurate 2020 Census.”

That option would mean the bureau would miss the Dec. 31 reporting deadline.

During a virtual court conference on Sept. 29, Koh said she believed the Oct. 5 deadline was a “violation” of her earlier court order. “I just think that an entire schedule that’s predicated on an enjoined date is a violation,” Koh told attorneys, according to NPR.

Koh told attorneys that she was prepared to hold contempt proceedings, and told plaintiffs’ attorneys that she was open to reviewing requests to find the defendants in violation of her earlier order. She officially found the administration in violation on Oct. 1.

“Today’s order reaffirms what bipartisan members of Congress have been stating: rushing the 2020 Census will result in an inaccurate and incomplete count,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D), chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, said in a statement. “The Trump Administration should follow this court order and stop politicizing the 2020 Census.”

In a statement posted to its website, the U.S. Census Bureau said a message alerting employees of the new deadline was sent to census takers working on the 2020 Census. “The U.S. Census Bureau is currently updating 2020Census.gov and Census.gov and all external and internal guidance to ensure compliance with the order,” the statement said.

The results of the 2020 Census will be used to determine how many congressional seats each state receives and to determine how to distribute $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year. The census determines the congressional breakdown for the next 10 years.

You can fill out the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail. For more information, head to 2020Census.org.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.