NAACP Sues Commerce Department To Make Sure Minorities Aren’t ‘Under Counted’

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sued the Commerce Department Thursday out of concern that minorities and low-income communities will not be accurately counted in the 2020 Census.

The NAACP, the NAACP Connecticut State Conference and the NAACP Boston Branch filed the lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to gain records from the Commerce Department about how it plans to collect data for the 200 Census after the organization filed a FOIA in June, according to a press release.

“The Census Bureau routinely undercounts communities of color, young children, home renters, low-income persons, and rural residents,” NAACP General Counsel Bradford M. Berry said in the press release, “but all signs indicate that the 2020 Census will be a particularly egregious failure on this front. Is this Administration genuinely committed to a full and fair census of all persons in this country?”

The complaint argues that the Trump administration’s hiring freeze and the departure of the department’s head, among other things, have prevented the Census Bureau from being adequately prepared for the census. The NAACP filed a FOIA in June for documents about their preparations and how they planned to avoid being a “high risk program,” but was told that the Bureau would not be able to provide them, prompting the NAACP to sue.

“Plaintiffs requested records concerning hiring practices, cancellations/delays of tests, digitization, and outreach to hard-to-count populations, and other topics. The Bureau failed to respond to Plaintiffs’ request within the statutory deadline, in violation of the FOIA. Plaintiffs bring this action to compel the Bureau’s immediate production of responsive, non-exempt records,” the complaint reads.

The Department of Commerce Department released a statement saying that the lawsuits lacks merit and that there will be a media campaign to ensure that people are aware of the census.

“The Census Bureau is committed to assuring a full, fair, and accurate count, and I pledge to oversee the Bureau’s efforts to discharge that commitment,” the department said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation.”It is unfortunate the litigants brought this action. If their true concerns are related to undercounting, there are many non-litigious avenues to communicate and engage on those concerns.”

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