Update: since this story first aired, NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang confirmed through Department of Justice spokesperson Kelly Laco that the department will print the 2020 Census forms without a citizenship question. Printers have been told to begin the printing process.
The Trump administration’s deadline to begin printing all of the materials for the 2020 census has passed, but the implications of that missed deadline is unclear.
Jacqueline Thomsen is a reporter for The Hill. She says census data is used to determine the allocation of government funds to states and programs. And state lawmakers also use the data when drawing political district lines.
“In order to get the census out on time as mandated by the Constitution, it’s very important for them to be meeting all these different printing deadlines, especially because they have to get it across all 50 states within one year,” Thomsen says.
It appears that printing of census forms did not begin yesterday, as officials said was necessary.
“There’s no indication from the Office of Management and Budget that any printing is started,” Thomsen says. “The Commerce Department and the Census Bureau have both been silent about it so far, and the president has continued to say that he would like to delay the census in order to try to get a citizenship question on the survey.”
Thomsen says the Supreme Court’s action last week to block the citizenship question left an opening through which the administration hopes to revive the question when a related case is reheard by a lower court in Maryland soon.
Thomsen says the July 1 census printing deadline has been cited repeatedly by the Trump administration in court filings related to the inclusion of a citizenship question. The date was intended to encourage courts to resolve the case in time to meet the printing deadline.
“There have been a lot of former census officials who have come out and said that deadline really is necessary to make sure that printing is done correctly,” Thomsen says. “These forms can be pretty complicated.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.