By Mike Schneider Associated Press
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Already under criticism for plans to end the 2020 census at the end of September, a month earlier than previously scheduled, the U.S. Census Bureau intends to finish up its most labor-intensive operation for getting an accurate head count even earlier in one of the largest U.S. cities.
Door-knocking operations for the 2020 census will end in the San Diego area on Sept. 18, shortening the schedule by 12 days there for census takers, also known as enumerators, who visit homes that haven’t yet responded to the questionnaire, according to a Census Bureau official.
“We hope all of our workload will be complete and there will not be any more enumerators out on the street,” Roberto Garcia, a partnership specialist in San Diego, said almost two weeks ago during an online meeting with metro San Diego leaders who are helping motivate residents to answer the census questionnaire.
Census Bureau spokesman Michael Cook said that there are some places in the U.S. that will finish with the door-knocking phase earlier than the Sept. 30 deadline because they have completed the needed work.
Cook didn’t say which other areas may wrap up before the end-of-September deadline.
Between the time these areas finish with door-knocking and the Sept. 30 deadline for ending the head count, “they are going to take fine tooth comb and make sure nothing is missed,” Cook said.
A coalition of cities, states and civil rights groups are suing the Census Bureau to stop the statistical agency from ending the head count at the end of September. The 2020 census will be used to determine how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is distributed and how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each states gets.
Because of the pandemic, the Census Bureau revised its deadlines so that the 2020 census would finish at the end of October. But the bureau shortened that deadline to the end of September last month after President Donald Trump directed the agency to exclude people in the country illegally from figures used for redrawing congressional districts, according to a lawsuit filed in San Jose seeking to stop the count from ending in September.
More than a half-dozen other lawsuits are challenging Trump’s order, which civil rights groups say is unconstitutional and an attempt to limit the power of Latinos and immigrants of color.
On Tuesday, another coalition of civil rights groups asked a federal judge in Maryland for a temporary restraining order that would stop the Census Bureau from ending the count early and let it continue through the end of October.