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Officials Worry Expedited Census Deadline May Cause Undercount

The Trump administration will end in-person census interviews a month early, possibly leading to an undercount and a cut to federal funding in New York

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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.

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

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