Trump’s census director still has a year left in his term. Lawmakers are demanding he resign

Trump’s census director still has a year left in his term. Lawmakers are demanding he resign

Next week will mercifully mark the end of twice-impeached president Donald Trump’s term, and that of his political appointees. But not all of them. U.S. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham was picked by Trump and confirmed by the U.S. Senate two years ago to a term that’s not scheduled to end until the end of 2021.

But following a whistleblower report in recent days that top census officials including Dillingham pressured staffers to produce a last-minute, “statistically indefensible” count on undocumented immigrants to turn over to Trump, lawmakers are calling for him to either resign or be fired by President-elect Joe Biden when he takes office.

Dillingham “must resign,” California representative and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus chair Judy Chu told Politico. “If he doesn’t resign, then President Biden would have to immediately replace him with a census director who can oversee the completion of the 2020 census.” New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen similarly called for Dillingham’s resignation, and said she’d be ready to work with the president-elect to begin to reverse harmful sabotaging inflicted by the outgoing administration.  

“Dillingham’s failure to put country over loyalty to the president allowed these transgressions to occur, and he therefore should resign,” she said in the report. “As President Biden begins his presidency, undoing the harm President Trump levied against the census should be at the top of the list, and I will be a ready and willing partner on those efforts.”

“The Trump administration has repeatedly and increasingly sought to meddle in the decennial census throughout his tenure in office,” the report said, from trying to implement a citizenship question (an unsuccessful effort ultimately blocked by the Supreme Court), to an unconstitutional memo seeking to erase undocumented immigrants from the count in order to affect apportionment of House seats.

However, the court dismissed a challenge to that policy, apparently claiming it’s too early to rule on it. “The liberals dissent on all fronts AND say Trump’s policy is illegal,” legal observer Mark Joseph Stern said at the time. Then came the whistleblower report this week, saying the bureau put “significant pressure” on staffers to produce a count on undocumented immigrants by today, “even though staff there say the data isn’t ready,” The Washington Post report said.

Per one employee, what they were being told to do was “statistically indefensible,” the report continued. NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang reported that effort was subsequently called off.

Politico reports that the incoming Biden administration didn’t comment on Dillingham, but said through a transition aide that “[t]he Trump administration’s politicization of the census was damaging to our democracy. The Biden-Harris administration will get to work immediately rectifying the actions of the previous administration and ensuring that every American counts regardless of immigration status.” 

No one’s arguing with that—but none of it should be happening with Dillingham still around at the bureau, or any other Trump appointee who aided in the sabotaging of the constitutionally mandated obligation to count everyone regardless of immigration status in the U.S. Dillingham should resign. If he doesn’t, Joe, fire his ass.

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