Heinrich Criticizes Trump Administration’s Maneuvers To Manipulate Census And Hamper An Accurate Count

Cutting the Census short undermines a cornerstone of our democracy and could underfund undercounted communities for the next decade

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is calling on the Trump administration to reverse its decision to cut Census data collection operations short by one month. The once a decade count, which is mandated by the Constitution, helps set federal funding levels that affect everything from schools, roads, and hospitals to representation in Congress. In an illogical and seemingly political decision, President Trump abruptly decided this week to end the count earlier despite COVID-19 cases spiking in communities across the country.

"The stakes for communities all across the country are too high to allow the Trump White House to politicize and bungle the Census," said Heinrich. "Critical federal funds, resources, and even our political representation in Congress are all determined by the Census count. Especially because of challenges presented to in-person canvassing by the ongoing pandemic, we should be putting more resources into getting an accurate count--not cutting the Census short."

As a result of the new September 30 deadline, there are only 56 days left for Census door knockers to go door-to-door to collect responses from 37 percent of the country – and 46.8 percent of New Mexicans – who didn’t self-respond. These efforts are complicated due to the prevalence of COVID-19 and mistrust in many communities due to a number of actions by the Trump administration, including those ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The stakes of an accurate count are high. For New Mexico, an incomplete count could reduce millions of dollars in federal funding in the state’s annual budget which is derived from the Census each year.

Senator Heinrich joined a group of 24 U.S. Senators, led by U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), in a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urging the Trump administration to reverse the effort to end the count a month early.

Read the full text of the letter below or by clicking here.

Dear Secretary Ross:

We write to express our deep concern and opposition to the Administration’s decision to end Census field data collection activities by September 30 – one month earlier than previously planned. This self-imposed curtailment of operations will have a devastating impact on the accuracy and completeness of the Decennial Census.

The Decennial Census has faced unique challenges due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). With field operations delayed and reduced significantly in order to help ensure the safety of respondents and Census employees, ending operations early will make an accurate and complete count impossible.

This appears to be yet another effort to sabotage a successful Census, which include the Administration’s earlier attempts to add an unnecessary and divisive citizenship question and the recent issuance of a memorandum seeking to exclude undocumented immigrants for apportionment purposes. Ending operations early, especially Nonresponse Follow Up, will disproportionately disadvantage hard-to-count communities.

A full accounting of everyone present in the United States is required by the Constitution and is critical to the allocation of trillions of dollars of federal funding and proper Congressional apportionment. Data derived from the Decennial Census influences decisions made across all levels of government and by businesses of all sizes. Rushing the completion of the Census, distorting response rates, and short-circuiting data assurance activities will have disastrous consequences that will reverberate for years to come.

As such, we urge you to immediately reverse this decision and take all necessary steps to ensure a full, fair, and accurate Decennial Census.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.