Carib ID Welcomes Ruling On Census Extension

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News Americas, Toronto, Canada, Fri. Sept. 25, 2020: Carib ID, the group founded in 2008 to lobby for a way for Caribbean nationals to count on US Census forms, has joined advocacy organizations nationally, in welcoming a last minute ruling from a federal court judge that the 2020 Census be extended for another month, through October 30th.

Carib ID founder, Felicia J. Persaud, lauded the ruling by U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California, as necessary. Judge Koh on Thursday ordered the Census Bureau to keep trying to tally the country’s residents through Oct. 31st after finding that the Donald Trump administration’s truncated census schedule is likely to produce inaccurate numbers about historically undercounted groups, including people of color and immigrants.

That, in turn, would harm the constitutional purpose of the count — to redistribute the seats in the House of Representatives among the states based on their latest populations.

Justice Department attorneys attempted to present speeding up the count as a way for the Census Bureau to meet the Dec. 31 legal deadline for reporting results in light of Congress not giving the bureau more time.  But judge Koh noted that explanation “runs counter to the facts.”

“Those facts show not only that the Bureau could not meet the statutory deadline, but also that the Bureau had received pressure from the Commerce Department to cease seeking an extension of the deadline,” the judge wrote in the order, which cites multiple internal emails and other documents the administration was required to release for the lawsuit.

Koh also noted that the administration had already signalled it was preparing to appeal even before her latest ruling. When DOJ attorney Aleks Sverdlov attempted to push back in the hearing’s last minutes, the judge had heard enough.

“Go ahead and appeal me,” Koh said.

The judge found that the challengers in the lawsuit — a coalition of groups led by the National Urban League — are ultimately likely to succeed in the lawsuit by arguing that the administration’s decision was arbitrary and capricious.

“Judge Koh’s ruling is a Hail Mary and one that is truly welcomed, as the Trump administration has shown it is playing politics with the Census and the lives of many Americans, particularly immigrants and people of color, whom it would like to shut out from America,” said Persaud. “Thank God that the courts are truly on the side of law and order.”

The Commerce Department’s own internal watchdog, the inspector general’s office has determined that the order to cut short the 2020 census did not come from the Census Bureau and even the bureau’s director doesn’t know who ultimately made the call.

“The schedule change was not the Bureau’s decision, nor was it the first time the 2020 Census schedule had been changed. Senior officials at the Bureau, including the Director, did not know who ultimately made the decision to accelerate the Census schedule,” a new report states.

So far, many states with a large Caribbean immigrant population has reported a significant low response including New York, where the self-response rate is 63.2 percent, and Florida, where the self-response rate is 63.1 percent.

But Persaud said she hopes the court ordered extension is followed and immigrants can use the last-minute opportunity to respond.

“Our message to all Caribbean people and immigrants across the US is to still ensure they take the Census before Sept. 30th just to be safe and not sorry,” said Persaud. “Remember it’s money being left in the swamp as it costs an individual about $2,700 and a household $7,000 in funding, to not fill out the Census.”

The results of the 2020 Census will help not just finally tell the Caribbean immigrant story in numbers but determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade. That funding shapes many different aspects of every community, no matter the size, no matter the location. Census results are used to allocate fund more than 100 programs, including Medicaid, Head Start, block grants for community mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP. It is used to determine where new clinics, schools and hospitals are needed; it is used to allocate funding for natural disasters such as flooding and hurricanes; and secure funding for hospitals and fire departments; influence highway planning and construction, as well as provide grants for buses, subways, and other public transit systems. It also helps determine how money is allocated for the Head Start program and for grants that support teachers and special education.

The list goes on, including programs to support prevent child abuse, to provide housing assistance for older adults and helping Caribbean owned businesses and organizations secure loans and sponsorships to serve the community’s specific needs. Business owners rely on census results to make decisions, such as where to open new stores, restaurants, factories, or offices, where to expand operations, where to recruit employees, and which products and services to offer.

To fill out the census, visit mycensus2020.gov and remember to write in your nationality and ancestry.  

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