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The Trump administration has shortened the deadline for census takers to conduct in-person interviews by a month, and local leaders worry it will cost the city of tens of billions of dollars and some congressional seats. In-person interviews are used to reach people who didn’t fill out their census paperwork, particularly hard-to-reach populations like immigrants. The in-person interviews were already due to the pandemic, starting in August and now ending on Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 31.
So far, the national response rate for the census is around 63%. New York’s response rate is shy of 59%. “When you look at the numbers, I think it’s like a 50% compliance rate in the Bronx,” said City Councilman Rafael Salamanca, D-South Bronx. “When you look around we need federal help, federal dollars,” he added. But an undercount in an area will only strip it of federal funding.
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The administration claims the shorter counting period is to allow more time to count the responses. But former Census Bureau directors have warned it will lead to “seriously incomplete enumerations in many areas across our country,” and census employees have raised concerns as well.
This is only the latest attack on the census by the Trump administration, which previously tried to add a question of citizenship to the survey and discount undocumented immigrants from counting toward congressional appropriations. The possibility of the citizenship question hampered efforts to reach undocumented immigrants, as did the pandemic, which made it unsafe to go door-to-door to reach non-respondents. Pix11
In other local immigration news…
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NYCLU Reaches Settlement with ICE Over Batavia Lawsuit
The New York Civil Liberties Union reached a settlement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that will “assure” detainees at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center in Batavia will be given protections against the coronavirus in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. NYCLU sued ICE, along with Prisoners Legal Services, to force ICE to enforce COVID-19 protective measures for medically at-risk people in the detention center. Those at-risk detainees will be put in individual cells, and eat meals and shower alone. During an outbreak at the center in April and May, 49 people were infected with the coronavirus. WBFO
New Jersey Leaders Push for Airport Worker Protection Act
Union leaders, advocacy groups and elected New Jersey officials are calling on the state to pass the Healthy Terminals Act so airport workers can obtain quality healthcare. “The Healthy Terminals Act could not be more important right now— airport workers have suffered enough,” bill sponsor Senator Loretta Weinberg said. “Black, brown and immigrant airport workers have been on the frontlines of this pandemic, securing terminals, sanitizing bathrooms, and making sure passengers get to their destinations safely,” said Larry Engelstein, an airline union secretary treasurer. Insider NJ (press release)
New York Offers Free Housing Legal Advice
New York City is offering free legal advice and counsel for residents facing eviction through the 311 helpline. “As a reminder, there are absolutely no questions whatsoever about immigration, citizenship, criminal history, income, social security information or anything of the sort,” Census Deputy Director Amit Bagga said of the process of calling for advice. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers are behind on rent due to coronavirus-related layoffs. Homeless Services Commissioner Steven Banks said the agency contacted 14,000 people who had eviction warrants before the pandemic to tell them about the help. CBS New York
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