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Congress Members Express Concerns About Politicizing the U.S. 2020 Census

The following is a message sent by Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee:

The 2020 US Census has already experienced a number of problems, including going to the US Supreme Court over a citizenship question, inadequate funding, and a delay in the contractor contracts. Now there is concern expressed in an article in the New York Times that two new top level positions were filled with outside the agency political appointments which is unprecedented –and that is what is raising concerns about making the census partisan.

Until now only the Director of the Census Bureau, its Congressional liaison and its spokesperson have been political appointees. “For decades, the agency’s directors and top managers have been career statisticians, economists and survey methodologists — sometimes eminent ones.”  The new appointees are:

Pandemic, Privacy Rules Add to Worries Over 2020 Census Accuracy

Martin LaMonica has published a rather interesting article that describes problems that future genealogists may encounter when researching their ancestors: missing and/or inaccurate information in the 2020 U.S. census. Of course, the same census information is also used to determine all sorts of things, from the number representatives each state sends to the House of Representatives to how Federal funds are allocated for government programs and much more.

LaMonica writes:

“For the Census Bureau, the timing of national shutdowns due to the pandemic could not have been much worse.

Coronavirus Will Make the 2020 Census Even Trickier

From an article by Alex Davies in the Wired web site:

“Funding is tight, and a proposed citizenship question has made some people wary. Minorities and low-income Americans are most at risk of being missed.

“The decennial census is supremely important, to put it mildly. It’s not just the count that determines how the American people are represented in Congress (the bit that justifies its place in Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution). It informs how businesses make myriad decisions and how civil rights laws are enforced. “It’s really the gold standard as a population frame upon which all surveys are taken,” says William Frey, a demographer and sociologist at the Brookings Institution. And it provides data that, in 2017 alone, was used to distribute some $1.5 trillion via 316 federal spending programs, according to research from the George Washington Institute of Public Policy at George Washington University.

Watchdog Warns About 2020 Census IT and Cybersecurity Challenges

It’s less than a month until the federal government will start asking households across the country to complete the 2020 census questionnaire. But the Census Bureau is behind addressing IT and cybersecurity issues that could put the decennial survey at risk, according to a government watchdog report.

For the first time, the 2020 census will primarily rely on online responses rather than paper surveys. But the new technology supporting the effort brings new potential security risks.

Less Than One Month Remains Until U.S. Households Receive 2020 Census Invitations

Get ready to leave your information for your descendants who will also be genealogists! Between March 12 and March 20, invitations to participate in the 2020 Census will start arriving in households across the USA.

According to today’s announcement from the U.S. Census Bureau:

“The Census Bureau is ready for the nation to respond next month,” said Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham. “Millions of Americans are applying for 2020 Census jobs, more than 270,000 local and national organizations are engaged, and in less than 30 days the majority of U.S. households will receive an invitation to respond to help ensure that every person in the U.S. is counted.”

“The 2020 Census is on mission, on schedule, and on budget to promote an accurate count,” Dillingham continued. “Response is important because statistics from the census are used in distributing where hundreds of billions in funding for school lunches, hospitals, roads and much more. The invitations will remind respondents to include everyone living in the household, whether they are related or not. This includes young children. Your response will impact communities for the next decade.”

U.S. Supreme Court Blocks 2020 Census Citizenship Query

From an Associated Press news story:

“In two politically charged rulings, the Supreme Court dealt a huge blow Thursday to efforts to combat the drawing of electoral districts for partisan gain and put a hold on the Trump administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.”

You can read the full story at: http://bit.ly/31UpdRP.

For more information about the arguments that led up to today’s Supreme Court decision, see my earlier articles about this issue by starting at: http://bit.ly/2ZUtbI9.

My thanks to the several newsletter readers who wrote to tell me about today’s court decision.

How Your Privacy Will Be Protected in the 2020 Census

Every ten years the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a nationwide survey that sets the terms for the country’s democracy. The questionnaire yields rich data, including people’s names, street addresses, ages, races, ethnicities, and other details. People’s responses help determine dynamics of power, such as how seats are apportioned in the House of Representatives, where voting districts get divided, and which communities receive federal funds.

But the bureau, tasked with releasing summaries of the results while simultaneously protecting people’s privacy, faces a Catch-22. “Every time you publish a statistic you leak information about that confidential database,” as Simson Garfinkel, a computer scientist with the bureau, told a Census advisory committee in May.

You can learn all about the privacy procedures of the 2020 U.S. Census in an article by Robert Hackett and an accompanying video in the Fortune web site at: http://fortune.com/2019/05/25/census-security-privacy/.

Second Federal Court Strikes Citizenship Question From 2020 Census

This has been a see-saw battle. For the second time, a Federal court blocked a controversial citizenship question from the 2020 census

Judge Richard Seeborg wrote that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross “ignored” federal law when he added the question. Seeborg cited evidence he said shows the question lowers self-response rates among immigrants and non-citizens.

How the 2020 Census Bureau Will Invite Everyone to Respond

Future genealogists will want to read about you in the 2020 U.S. Census. After all, don’t we appreciate looking at our ancestors’ records in previous censuses? The least you can do is to make sure similar data is available to your descendants.

A new page from the U.S. Census Bureau provides suggestions. You can see it at: http://bit.ly/2T4Bwdn.

The US Census Bureau is Hiring Temporary Employees for the 2020 Census

Attention genealogists: You have undoubtedly read lots of census records. How would you like to create a few new records? You can also earn extra income while helping your community.

The Census Bureau plans to hire workers for a variety of temporary jobs, including census takers, recruiting assistants, office staff, and supervisory staff. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old, have a valid Social Security number, and be a U.S. citizen. Job applications must be made online.

Details may be found at: https://2020census.gov/jobs.

Judge Declines to Block Citizenship Question from the 2020 Census on Privacy Grounds

This has been an ongoing issue that will affect future genealogists. In short, the Census Bureau proposed adding a question asking for each U.S. resident’s citizenship status in the 2020 census forms. A privacy and civil liberties nonprofit group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, responded by launching a lawsuit against the government claiming that the US Census Bureau was required to first complete a privacy impact assessment. The Electronic Privacy Information Center then asked for an immediate injunction be issued to prevent the Census Bureau from going forward with the citizenship question until the issue had been decided in the courts..

On Friday, US District Judge Dabney Friedrich declined to issue a preliminary injunction. The Electronic Privacy Information Center said in a statement it “intends to press forward with” its lawsuit.

A citizenship question has been asked of census respondents before, but not since 1950.

The U.S. Census Bureau Will Test a Citizenship Question Ahead of the 2020 Census

Sadly, politics has again reared its ugly head again in the simple act of counting the population of the United States, as required by Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution: “The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”

Sadly, the simple words of “in such Manner as they shall by Law direct” has been debated by various political groups as to what data is to be collected. I have written before about the latest simple issue: should a U.S. resident be asked about his or her citizenship? You can see my past articles about this issue by starting at: https://blog.eogn.com/?s=2020+census.

The simple question about asking about citizenship in the 2020 US Census has resulted in at least six lawsuits.

Federal Judge Blocks Trump Administration From Asking the Citizenship Question from 2020 Census

I have written about this question before. See https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Aeogn.com+%222020+census%22&t=h_&ia=web for my past articles about the 2020 U.S. Census.

Now a New York Judge has ruled that the 2020 US Census may not include the proposed citizenship question. The opinion from US District Court of Southern District of New York Judge Furman stated:

“Secretary Ross’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census—even if it did not violate the Constitution itself—was unlawful for a multitude of independent reasons and must be set aside”.

More on the 2020 Census Citizenship Question and Litigation

The following announcement was posted to the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies mailing list by Jan Meisels Allen:

As previously reported on the IAJGS Records Access Alert, the addition to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 US Census by the Commerce Department has resulted in at least six lawsuits. The largest lawsuit, which includes more than two dozen states and cities is before US Federal District Court Southern District of New York, Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan (New York City, NY) who ruled in late July that the case may move forward. Judge Furman also agreed to have Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Acting Assistant Attorney General John Grove for the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice be deposed as to why Secretary Ross added the question. There is some question whether Secretary Ross did it at the request of the Department of Justice, as he testified before Congress, or he had wanted to do this all along based on comments he made almost a year before the request to add the citizenship question. Then in late September the Justice Department representing the White House filed a motion to stay discovery pending Supreme Court Review.

White House Escalates Fight Over US 2020 Census Question on Citizenship to Supreme Court

The following announcement is from the IAJGS Mailing List:

As previously reported on the IAJGS Records Access Alert, the addition to add a question about citizenship to the 2020 US Census by the Commerce Department has resulted in at least six lawsuits. The largest lawsuit, which includes more than two dozen states and cities is before US Federal District Court Southern District of New York, Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan (New York City, NY) who ruled in late July that the case may move forward.  Judge Furman also agreed to have Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Acting Assistant Attorney General  John Grove for the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice be deposed as to why Secretary Ross added the question. There is some question whether Secretary Ross did it at the request of the Department of Justice or he had wanted to do this all along based on comments he made almost a year before the request to add the citizenship question.

On Friday, September 28, the Justice Department, representing the White House filed a motion to stay discovery pending Supreme Court Review. The motion may be read at: https://apps.npr.org/documents/document.html?id=4951932-Sept-28-2018-Letter-Motion-to-Stay-Discovery.

Update: California sues the Trump Administration over the Addition of Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census

I recently wrote a brief article describing California’s lawsuit against the Trump Administration over the Addition of Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census. That article generated quite a bit of discussion. You can read the article at: http://bit.ly/2qawVVV.

Newsletter reader Ted Russell has written a response to the various discussions that strikes me as common sense. Here is his response, published here with Ted’s permission:

Yes, data on citizenship status will be of great use to future genealogists. And yes, the question is legal and constitutional. But it will likely have the effect of either driving undocumented immigrants further into the shadows, or exposing and deporting them, and this administration knows this very well. The Census Bureau is not supposed to share individual information with other agencies, but based on this administration’s disregard for the law, it would be hard for a Census enumerator to convince a respondent that the information will not be shared with ICE.

California sues the Trump Administration over the Addition of Citizenship Question to the 2020 Census

The state of California sued the Trump administration Monday night, arguing that the decision to add a question about citizenship in the 2020 Census violates the U.S. Constitution. The state’s attorney general acted just after the Commerce Department announced the change in a late-night release.

The suit is just the start of what is likely to be a broader battle with enormous political stakes that pits the administration against many Democratic states, which believe that the citizenship question will reduce the response rate for the census and produce undercounts. As a result, opponents say, states with significant immigrant populations stand to lose seats in state legislatures and Congress, along with electoral college votes in presidential elections and federal funding based on census counts. Republicans gained a significant advantage in redrawing maps after the 2010 Census.

You can read more in the many online news web sites. For instance, you can find dozens of articles about this issue by starting at: http://bit.ly/2DY6BTL.

Census Bureau Clarifies How it Will Count Overseas Federal Employees in 2020 Census

This won’t help today’s genealogists but may be useful to future researchers. The Census Bureau has published a memo in the Federal Register that outlines residence criteria and residence situations that determine who should be counted and where they should be counted. Federal employees working overseas are specifically mentioned in this memo.

The memo specifically states:

Overseas military and civilian employees of the U.S. government — The 2020 Census will count military and civilian employees of the U.S. government who are temporarily deployed overseas on Census Day at their usual home address in the United States, as part of the resident population, instead of their home state of record. Military and civilian employees of the U.S. government who are stationed or assigned overseas on Census Day, as well as their dependents living with them, will continue to be counted in their home state of record for apportionment purposes only.

Act Now to Save the 2020 Census

An article by Diane W. Schanzenbach and Michael R. Strain in the Bloomberg News web site describes the risk of the 2020 US census not being taken, as required by the Constitution. The article blames “Bad budget planning and a lack of leadership threaten the most basic mission of government” as the primary cause of the problems.

The article also states, ““You may have missed the news that the head of the Census Bureau, John Thompson, resigned a few months ago. In normal circumstances, the departure of a government statistician would not be worth highlighting. But Thompson’s departure adds to the growing uncertainty surrounding the success of the 2020 decennial census. About that, you should worry.”

US Census Bureau Selects Sites for 2018 End-to-End Census Test in Preparation for 2020 Census

The following announcement was written by the US Census Bureau:

JULY 22, 2016 — The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that it selected the sites for its largest and most advanced systems and operations test in preparation for the 2020 Census. The 2018 End-to-End Census Test will take place in three locations, covering more than 700,000 housing units. The test locations are Pierce County, Wash.; Providence County, R.I.; and the Bluefield-Beckley-Oak Hill, W.Va., area.

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