Atlanta mayor blasts Trump administration over 2020 census

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday blasted the Trump administration’s plans to wind down in-person counting for the 2020 census a month ahead of schedule, calling it a political move.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday blasted the Trump administration’s plans to wind down in-person counting for the 2020 census a month ahead of schedule, calling it a political move.

Credit: Screenshot via Facebook/City of Atlanta

Credit: Screenshot via Facebook/City of Atlanta

Government is seeking to wind down in-person counting a month ahead of schedule

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Wednesday blasted the Trump administration’s plans to wind down in-person counting for the 2020 census a month ahead of schedule, calling it a political move.

As of Monday, Georgia ranked fifth to last among the 50 states for its percentage of households counted for the decennial process, which helps determine congressional representation and $1.5 trillion in federal funding.

In Georgia, 85.6% of households have been counted, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. That reflects 61.3% of Peach State households that have responded on their own to the census plus 24.3% counted by census takers going door to door. Atlanta has a 57.7% self-response rate.

“Given that we are in the midst of a pandemic, given the natural disasters that we are facing, it really is inexplicable that we wouldn’t take as much time as we need to get these numbers,” Bottoms told reporters during an online discussion.

“This is a political play because it does speak to representation in Congress. And the higher the numbers are ― especially in urban communities ― the more representation that we have in Congress. And that is certainly not something the Trump administration I’m sure is supportive of.”

The coronavirus pandemic has stymied census takers. So has the prevalence of historically difficult-to-count people in Georgia, including young children, minorities and immigrants. The outbreak, for example, forced the Census Bureau to temporarily suspend its field work.

Despite these challenges, Marilyn Stephens, an assistant regional manager with the U.S. Census Bureau, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a recent interview that her agency is on track with its work.

“We are doing the work that we have been charged to do. It doesn’t stop for us,” Stephens said. “We are still on our steady course every day.”

Advocacy groups are battling the federal government in court over the government’s plans to wind down in-person counting by Sept. 30, a month ahead of schedule. A federal judge in California has issued a temporary restraining order, blocking the government’s move at least until a hearing in the case Thursday.

The National Urban League, League of Women Voters and other plaintiffs in the case argue rushing the process could result in “a massive undercount of the country’s communities of color and the municipalities, cities, counties, and states where they live.”

In recent court papers, a top census official said the bureau was on schedule to complete its work by the end of this month with the help of more than 235,000 workers out in the field. He added the bureau has already begun letting go some of its temporary employees who have completed their work.