U.S. Census Bureau statisticians are under pressure from Trump appointees to rush a headcount on illegal immigrants in the U.S. by Jan. 15, according to a memorandum from the Office of the Inspector General.
The Jan. 12 memo refers to multiple whistleblowers at the Census Bureau who expressed concern with the directive, claiming it to be unrealistic since insufficient time has been given to conduct data quality checks. The data itself is questionable and needs further investigation before being published as a significant portion is compiled by outside sources, OIG said in the memo.
Inspector General Peggy Gustafson addressed the memo to U.S. Census Bureau Director Scott Dillingham alleging the “driving forces” behind the report are two Trump political appointees in top posts at the Bureau, Nathaniel Cogley and Benjamin Overholt.
Cogley and Overhold are set to relinquish their posts at the Bureau in the coming days, raising questions about Dillingham’s proposed deadline, the OIG said.
The OIG memo highlights an attempt by pro-Trump appointees to offer a financial reward for completion of the report before the Friday deadline.
There are concerns that citizenship data on U.S. residents could be used to exclude people from the count in apportioning congressional seats and Electoral College votes, according to the Associated Press.
In response to the memo, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire condemned Trump’s alleged manipulation of the U.S. census in a tweet on Jan. 12.
President Trump made a mission out of manipulating the census. His politicization of the 2020 census has been dangerous & destructive to our democratic institution. That ends in 8 days. I’ll work w/the Biden admin to see these policies reversed & repair the damage Trump caused. https://t.co/CdjeM5IW2L
— Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (@SenatorShaheen) January 13, 2021
Whistleblowers at the Census Bureau reportedly notified OIG of the directive to produce a “technical report relating to Executive Order 13880 that includes data on documented and undocumented persons in the United States,” OIG said in the memo.
The Executive Order was signed into law in July 2019 after an earlier Supreme Court decision ruled that the Department of Commerce concealed its true reasoning in adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census and required the department to offer a better explanation for adding the question, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
OIG cited whistleblower arguments that such a report would be inaccurate, since there is a lack of defined business rules on different categories of citizens and non-citizens and Bureau employees are utilizing data sets “they don’t understand.” (RELATED: Supreme Court Rules Against Counting Illegal Immigrants For Congressional Redistricting)
“Many of these data sets originate from outside the Bureau, and Bureau employees worry that their unfamiliarity with the data sets could lead to bias or mischaracterizations of the data,” Gustafson told Dillingham.
The memo mentions a senior Census Bureau official who argued the report to be “statistically indefensible,” signaling pushback at multiple levels of the Bureau in following the directive, which has been labelled “a number one priority” by Trump appointees.
OIG has directed the Census Bureau to answer a series of questions related to the report by Jan. 14 , including the intended purpose of the report, reasons for the Jan. 15 deadline and whether any outside persons or entities ordered the report.
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