My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘legal’

Louisiana vs. The Census Bureau, Department of Commerce, and Obama Administration

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

On November 14, 2011, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell ”filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to recover the congressional seat taken from Louisiana as a result of the 2010 Census. To properly apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Constitution requires that a census be taken every 10 years to count the number of lawful residents in each state. In the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau included illegal foreign nationals, along with holders of guest-worker visas and student visas, in the count of lawful residents of each state. As a result of the Census Bureau’s practice, states with large numbers of illegal foreign nationals gained congressional seats, while states with low numbers of illegal foreign nationals, like Louisiana, lost congressional seats.”

This sentiment was augmented by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch which took further action today:

Judicial Watch, the organization that investigates and fights government corruption, announced today that it filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the State of Louisiana challenging a current federal policy in which “unlawfully present aliens” were counted in the 2010 Census (Louisiana v. Bryson).

The government used these census numbers to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives and, as a result, the State of Louisiana lost a House seat to which it was entitled.  Louisiana is asking that the Supreme Court order the federal government to recalculate the 2010 apportionment of House seats based upon legal residents as the U.S. Constitution requires.

Judicial Watch’s brief was filed on January 13, 2012, in partnership with the Allied Educational Foundation (AEF) in a lawsuit filed by the State of Louisiana against John Bryson, U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Robert Groves, Director of the U.S. Census Bureau; and Karen Lehman Hass, Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.  According to the brief:

Amici are concerned about the failure to enforce the nation’s immigration laws and the corrosive effect of this failure on our institutions and the rule of law.  Among the problems caused by this failure is a redistribution of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to States with large populations of unlawfully present aliens.

Amici respectfully submit that neither Article I Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the Fourteenth Amendment, or any other provision of the Constitution authorize or permit the inclusion of unlawfully present aliens in the apportionment process.  As a result, this case raises issues critical not just to Louisiana, but to every State, every American citizen, and our federal system of government.

Judicial Watch argues that due to this Census Bureau policy at least five states will lose House seats to which they are entitled.  For example, based upon the Census Bureau’s calculation, Louisiana is being allocated only six House seats, as opposed to the seven that it would have been apportioned, were it not for the inclusion of illegal aliens and “non-immigrant foreign nationals,” encompassing holders of student visas and guest workers.  The brief also notes that the “apportionment, in turn, determines the apportionment of electors in the Electoral College for the next three presidential elections.”

Note to America: Your 2010 Census data is being handed over to private citizens

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

The Census Bureau has long touted that it keeps data private and confidential for 70 years after it is gathered. This concept proved to be false as recently as 2004, when the Census Bureau didn’t put up a fight as it turned over information about Arab-Americans to other government agencies.

The Census Bureau also readily hands over data to research centers at universities, both public and private. This is a little-known program that has not been mentioned in the press. While I may personally agree that universities with data access can provide benefits for society, I stand against the Census Bureau handing over this data on the principle that  the American people have not agreed that the Census Bureau can use their data in this way.

Take a look at this recent Census Bureau press release that highlights the 10+ sites around the country where universities have access to your data:

The Center for Economic Studies at the U.S. Census Bureau, in
partnership with the University of Minnesota, has opened a new Research
Data Center (RDC) laboratory on the university’s campus in Minneapolis.

RDCs are Census Bureau facilities where researchers from academia,
federal agencies and other institutions with approved projects receive
restricted access to unpublished Census Bureau demographic and economic
microdata files. These secure facilities are staffed by Census Bureau
employees and meet stringent physical and computer security requirements
for access to confidential data.

“The Minnesota Research Data Center will serve researchers from a broad
range of academic disciplines, with particular strengths in demography and
public health,” said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves. “The Minnesota
RDC will contribute not only by providing researchers with assistance in
using the demographic, business and health data but also by developing
improved or new data collections.”

“The research lab is housed in the Minnesota Population Center (MPC),
which has a tradition of collaboration with the Census Bureau and other
statistical agencies. As a world leader in the improvement, dissemination
and analysis of census data, MPC is equipped to make unique contributions
to the RDC program,” Groves said.

Before gaining access to the information at RDCs, researchers must
submit proposals to the RDC and the Census Bureau for approval. The review
process ensures that proposed research is feasible, has scientific merit
and benefits Census Bureau programs. In addition, RDC operating procedures,
strict security and strong legal safeguards assure the confidentiality of
these data as required by law. Researchers, for instance, must pass a full
background investigation and are sworn for life to protect the
confidentiality of the data they access, with violations subject to
significant financial and legal penalties.

The Minnesota Census Research Data Center joins similar centers that
have been established in Boston; Berkeley, Calif.; Los Angeles; Washington;
Chicago; Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York; Ithaca, N.Y.; and Durham, N.C. The
center at Berkeley has a branch at Stanford University in Palo Alto,
Calif., while the center at Durham has recently opened a branch at Research
Triangle Park, N.C. An additional center is scheduled to open at a site in
Atlanta in spring 2011.

News from Hawaii: Census taker absolved of trespassing charge

Monday, August 9th, 2010

The Star Advertiser reports the following:

The Hawaii County prosecutor’s office agreed yesterday to dismiss a trespassing charge against a census worker who had been arrested after a Puna resident refused to participate in the survey.

The county also said it will cooperate with the U.S. Census Bureau to prevent similar situations in the future.

“We came to the conclusion that this was the better way to resolve this,” said Kevin Hashizaki, deputy county prosecutor.

Big Island police arrested census taker Russell J. Haas, 57, on March 10 at a home in Puna after the resident, an off-duty police officer, declined to answer questions and asked him to leave the property.

The resident called police, who arrested him for trespassing. “I tried to explain it to them. They didn’t want to hear it. They told me to get the hell out of there,” Haas said yesterday.

Haas had been charged with second-degree criminal trespass, a petty misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and $1,000 fine.

“I hope this never happens to any other census worker, any place, any time,” Haas said.

A federal judge in Honolulu dismissed the case, which had been transferred from state court, yesterday.

Hashizaki said continuing to prosecute the case would have required bringing four to five witnesses to Oahu yesterday for a hearing to oppose dismissal of the charge. And if the county was successful, those witnesses would be brought back to Oahu for trial.

“We’re very happy that this was resolved the way it was,” said Jamey Christy, Los Angeles regional director of the U.S. Census Bureau. “We learned a lot.” Christy said he believes local authorities also learned a lot.

Christy said guidance and procedures for census workers are scripted and that they are the same for census workers across the country. He said there might be room for adjustment for each location.

He also said a way to prevent such incidents is for census officials to have discussions with local officials in advance.

That would include meetings with county police chiefs, said Larry L. Butrick, assistant U.S. attorney.

Haas said he had been working the Puna area for at least a month when police arrested him. He continued collecting census data after his arrest.

Note: Haas continued collecting census data after his arrest. Isn’t this a violation of the Bureau’s own policies?



Class Action Lawsuit Update

Friday, August 6th, 2010

MyTwoCensus.com has been tracking the following lawsuit for quite some time. At first, we supported this suit, because it shows that the Census Bureau discriminated against people in the hiring process. However, when caucasian Census Bureau applicants who were rejected because of supposed criminal records tried to join the lawsuit, they were told that because they were not minorities, they were ineligible to join. If the Census Bureau’s hiring procedures discriminated against people with criminal records/arrests, then it did so against ALL people, not only minorities. Here’s today’s update from the AP:

NEW YORK — A lawsuit in New York City claims the U.S. Census Bureau discriminated in its hiring of more than a million temporary workers to conduct the 2010 census.

The lawsuit was filed by civil rights groups in federal court in Manhattan several months ago and was updated Thursday.

It says the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission warned the Census Bureau last year its hiring practices might be discriminatory. The lawsuit says the EEOC told the bureau its criminal background check policy might “run afoul” of the Civil Rights Act.

The lawsuit accuses the bureau of illegally screening out applicants with often decades-old arrest records for minor offenses or those who were arrested but never convicted.

Another census lawsuit; this one focuses on race

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

From Giselle Springer-Douglas, the Seattle correspondent for Examiner.com:

A potentially controversial lawsuit filed in federal court alleges that on both the 2000 and 2010 Census forms, the U.S. Census Bureau’s and the Office of Management and Budget’s “representation of race was false, misleading, deceptive, and, therefore, fraudulent,” and that its “negligence contributes to a historical and sustained pattern of personally-mediated, institutional, and internalized racism in this country…”

The lawsuit, Koe v. U.S. Census Bureau, focuses on the 2000 and 2010 Census forms because the plaintiff, using the pseudonym “Jane Koe,” states that she participated in those Census periods by completing and returning the Census forms.

In her complaint, Koe requests a number of remedies, including a petition that the court order the defendants to notify every recipient of the 2010 Census form that “race in this country is defined by the Office of Management and Budget, reflects a social definition of race, and in no way conforms to any biological, anthropological or genetic criteria.”

In framing her complaint, Koe claims that verbiage on the 2000 Census site in a section entitled “Questions and Answers for Census 2000 Data on Race” acknowledges that race is merely a social construct (a concept that is the artifact of a particular group rather than the product of science).

Koe says that she had, up until recently, believed “race was a concept grounded in scientific fact” and attributes this belief partly to “the federal government’s historical propagation of the genetics-based race ‘fact.’” Koe argues that, “By failing to explicitly correct this erroneous belief, despite knowing that the general populace believes race to be based on scientific fact, the Defendants’ representation of race was false, misleading, deceptive and, therefore, fraudulent.”

As Koe is presently representing herself, the complaint is currently undergoing judicial review—a process that is standard for complaints filed by self-represented plaintiffs.

A copy of the complaint, originally filed July 14, 2010 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (case 10-CV-1142), can be found on Seattle, WA-based group I Am Malan’s website at http://www.iammalan.org/greatracecase.htm.

The MyTwoCensus.com verdict: This sounds like a farce that won’t go anywhere. Case closed?

Freedom of Information? Hardly. Access denied!

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Some months ago, after I received credible reports that Census Bureau employees were staying at Ritz Carleton hotels while on official biz, I wanted to know the extent of such spending sprees. I filed a Freedom of Information Act request and waited many, many months to hear back about its status. Today, I was fed up. I e-mailed Grant Book, the (presumably young) Commerce Department lawyer whose job it is to keep telling me “wait longer or sue us for the information.” Now, I’m not in the business of lawsuits, so I choose to wait for the info. Today, Mr. Book told me that my “final response” was sent out on June 22. I am 100% certain that this response never reached my inbox, as I searched for it repeatedly. Either way, here’s what the response looks like. The outcome: Negative. The trend toward increased government transparency continues…not! (And I’ve never seen so many court cases cited in my life for denying a FOIA request) Here it is, in all its glory:

The Commerce Department says “No” to my request for information.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Class action lawsuit should include everyone, not only minorities

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Earlier this year, MyTwoCensus informed readers about a class action lawsuit that alleges that the Census Bureau discriminates in its hiring process against individuals who have been arrested even though they were never charged with a crime. MyTwoCensus.com subsequently received many inquiries from white/Caucasian people who were not hired by the Census Bureau for this reason and hoped to join this lawsuit and were told that because they were white/Caucasian they were unable to partake in the lawsuit. MyTwoCensus.com wrote to the lawyer in charge of the suit, Adam Klein, of the firm Golden Outten in New York to determine if this was true. Unfortunately, Mr. Klein confirmed that only minorities are eligible to participate in this lawsuit. This is a travesty because this lawsuit itself is now discriminatory against any non-minority who wasn’t hired by the Census Bureau because of alleged (though unproven) misconduct. MyTwoCensus encourages Golden Outten to open this suit to everyone, because if justice is served, it should be served for all.

Is it redistricting time already? Some transparency please!

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

The following story comes from OMB Watch:

The Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute convened an advisory board of experts and representatives of good government groups in order to articulate principles for transparent redistricting and to identify barriers to the public and communities who wish to create redistricting plans.

Redistricting is a legally and technically complex process. Access to district creation and analysis software can encourage broad participation by: being widely accessible and easy to use; providing mapping and evaluating tools that help the public to create legal redistricting plans, as well as maps identifying local communities; be accompanied by training materials to assist the public to successfully create and evaluate legal redistricting plans and define community boundaries; have publication capabilities that allow the public to examine maps in situations where there is no access to the software; and promote social networking and allow the public to compare, exchange and comment on both official and community-produced maps.

Social networking is bad! (says the Census Bureau)

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010
An anonymous Census employee sent SRM a tip about a few flyers the Bureau sent along with their paychecks (finally). One flyer covered driving safety (and please, everyone, do take care while driving). The other covered the ethics of social networking, and unfortunately it came to the conclusion that it’s bad. Sorry Morse, time to close up shop! (Note: That was a joke.)
Email excerpt:
It’s funny how it is implied that criticizing and talking to outsiders about the incompetence of the census machinery and brass is punishable with jail and fines, when in reality, it only applies to title 13 of USC in regard to respondent information and personally identifiable information.  The census own manuals have a section devoted to the rights and protections afforded to whistleblowers.  They also imply that because we are paid government employees, that it is unethical for us to publicly humiliate and or expose the ineptness of our employers.  Nice try.  There is no law preventing anyone from writing in their personal capacity, but it is implied that it is wrong, unethical, and just not cool.
And from the reminder itself (no emphasis added):
CONFIDENTIALITY AND ETHICS REMINDER
Social Networking and Census Employment
As personal blogging, tweeting, social networking sites have become more common and popular, it
is not unusual for Federal employees to have an opportunity to write about their work and their
employer in a public forum.  Please be aware you cannot disclose any nonpublic information that
is protected by statute.  You also cannot receive payments for writing about Census programs or
operations or about assignments you have been given as a Census employee.  In addition, you
must be careful to ensure that there is no appearance created that you are writing on behalf of the
Bureau of the Census, the Department of Commerce, or the United States Government when you
are writing in your personal capacity.
[...]
These restrictions on writing and publications are in addition to the life-time oath you took to
uphold the confidentiality of census information.  Any wrongful disclosure of confidential census
information subjects you to a fine up to $250,000, imprisonment up to five years, or both.

MyTwoCensus Investigaton: Are Census Bureau enumerators attempting to go to each residence more than three times (the maximum number of visits as stated by law)?

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

UPDATE: MyTwoCensus has learned from a Census Bureau official who has requested anonymity that in urban areas, because the travel time between units is negligible, Census Bureau officials have been visiting units up to six times. Large municipalities, particularly those with low participation rates thus far, are fearful of undercounts, so they welcome these measures.

MyTwoCensus has learned from the blogosphere and from anonymous tips (a new feature on our updated contact page) that Census Bureau employees, who are permitted a maximum of three personal visits and three phone calls to each residence that has not returned their 2010 Census forms, have actually visited residences upwards of six times. (We blame Census Bureau officials, not the enumerators!) Yes, these are your tax dollars at work. Here’s the law, as taken from the Census Bureau’s web page:

We have perused the blogosphere to discover that a Census Bureau employee in Chicago has reported the following problems on her blog:

Shifting Census Rules: Six Visits Becomes 36 Points of Contact. Or: WTF?

We learned in training–over and over and over again–that we’re allowed three personal visits and three phone calls. I’ve blogged about this before, because about a week ago, when we started turning in forms with three personal visits and no actual contact, they changed the rules. That’s when we were told six personal visits, despite what had been burned into our brains in training.

Well guess what’s happening now?

Enough time has lapsed that those six visit EQs are coming back and a few of them still haven’t been able to find a proxy or a respondent. In most cases, in my district, they’re in locked buildings with no access to any kind of entry, and no neighbors. My enumerators have tried calling Realtors listed on the signs but they won’t call back. We’re all assuming that the buildings are vacant, but the LCO doesn’t like that.

So now they’ve said that for every single visit our enumerators should be knocking on the doors of six neighbors. By the time they’re done they should have 36 point of contact. THIRTY SIX POINTS OF CONTACT. A close-out, they stressed to us, is very, very, very rare.

Now, let’s set aside the fact that this is stalking, it’s creepy and it’s absolutely and completely ridiculous.The thing that gets me is that, of all rules they can change, I don’t think they should be screwing with the manuals.

How many times were we told to stick to the script? That these had been tested, researched, shot into outer space, all that crap, and that they KNOW that this works the best way. With three personal visits and three calls I can see their point. Much more than that is going to be the law of diminishing returns.

Not that you can reason with these people.

Are these type of shenanigans happening in other areas as well? Please leave your comments below to alert the public and the government officials who read this site where and when similar activities are taking place.

Legal troubles for the 2010 Census in Guam

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

People forget that the 2010 Census includes Guam, Puerto Rico, and other American territories. We will be looking into whether these matters have anything to do with Washington DC. Here’s some info from PacificNewsCenter.com:

Guam – Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Barrett-Andersen has ruled that GovGuam’s award of a phone service contract to Pacific Data Systems [PDS] violated GovGuam procurement law.

In her decision, Barrett-Andersen also states that GTA should have been awarded the contract because it was the only responsive bidder, and she concluded that GTA is entitled to collect reasonable costs for the expenses its incured in protesting of the award.

Read the Court’s Decision

However, the Judge let the contract award to PDS stand and denied GTA’s request for a permanent injunction because she found that the contract is in the best interest of the Territory.  ”There are only 4 months remaining to complete the Census … any disruption … of the telecommunications system currently in operation for the 2010 Census would be detrimental.”

The decision is another indictment of the troubled GovGuam procurement process. Judge Barrett-Andersen found fault with both the General Services Agency [GSA], which was responsible for awarding the bid, and PDS.

“PDS’s did not meet the IFB specifications,” she writes.

And GSA was criticised for “accepting the lowest bidder based on considerations outside the precise language of the bid specifications.” The Judge called that “an anti-competitive practice.” The Judge scolded the agency writing “The Government must be wary of the temptations associated with a focus on the lowest bid price .. GSA cannot abdicate its duties and responsibilities as the guardian of the public trust in the procurement process.”

GTA bid  $37,388 to provide a digital control system with 35 digital handsets. PDS submitted a bid for $23,069 which included a digital control system with 35 “analog” handsets.

PDS released the following statement in response to the Judges order:


Guam Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Barrett-Andersen has rendered her decision in Case No. 0050‐10, denying GTA’s claims in the case
and affirming the award to Pacific Data Systemsby the Government of Guam General Services Agency (GSA).

Judge Barrett‐Andersen’s  Decision  and  Order  also  lifted  the  temporary restraining order previously granted to GTA by the Court.  In a related
earlier decision, the Court also approved a Stipulation entered into by, GTA and the Government of Guam wherein all allegations made by GTA
against PDS of bad faith or misrepresentations were dropped.

The case involved a Bid Protest and formal Complaint filed by GTA against the Government of Guam and PDS alleging the award by GSA to PDS of a bid for telephone  services and  equipment to the Census Bureau  Office  had  been  wrongfully  made.   Judge  Barrett‐Andersen  denied  GTA’s  request  to  have  the award  and  contract  to  PDS  set  aside  and  a  subsequent  award  of  the  contract  made  to  GTA.   Judge Barrett‐Andersen chose to make no ruling on the facts presented by PDS during the hearing regarding the failure of the GTA bid to meet the Government’s bid requirements.

PDS President, John Day, issued the following statement regarding the final resolution of this issue, ”It is unfortunate that so much time and effort had to be consumed responding to GTA’s allegations in order to achieve  official  affirmation  of  this Bid  Award  from  the  Court.   It  is  now  clear  to  all  that  PDS’  bid represented the best solution to meet the Government’s requirements.

Testimony presented by Census Office  officials  during  the  Court  hearings  provided  undisputed  endorsement  of  the  PDS  solution  and highly credible evidence that the PDS system does indeed meet all requirements of the Census office and is doing so at a significant to the Government”.

2010 Census workers can’t report child abuse…

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

NBC Miami shares the following:

The government’s census workers are out and about in South Florida neighborhoods and beyond, going door to door and being invited into homes, but a little-known law is being criticized by local child advocates.

Under the law, census workers can’t say anything about or report sex abuse, child abuse, or any type of abuse of kids they may get a whiff of while visiting a home.

In fact, Federal law not only prohibits them from speaking out, but anyone who does could get a $5,000 fine and five years in jail if they do.

Census Workers Can’t Report Child Abuse

Census Workers Can't Report Child  Abuse

WATCH

Census Workers Can’t Report Child Abuse

In Florida, teachers, doctors, nurses, the clergy, and law enforcement officers must report child abuse when they see it.

Lissette Labrousse, attorney with Legal Services of Greater Miami, said there’s a reason for the law.

“The Federal law is designed to have people come forward and speak to census workers without fear,” said Labrousse. “Under the law it is required that the census worker keep everything confidential, they cannot release any information to any government agency.”

The census told NBCMiami that it’s very unlikely one of its workers would run across abuse, but if they did the law stops them from reporting it.

But child advocates claim the law hurts their efforts to get the public to come forward anytime children are being abused.

Trudy Novicki, Executive Director at Miami‘s Kristi House, which provides counseling for about 750 abused kids each year, said she called the Census Bureau when she was told of the law.

Shocking story from Wisconsin: Census worker accuses police of profiling and harassing him while doing his job

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

H/t to Stephanie Jones and The Journal Times for the following scoop. I really could not believe my eyes when I read this story:

RACINE – A U.S. Census Bureau worker has accused Racine police of harassing him while he was working last week and said he has filed a complaint.

Alexander Avila, 21, of Racine, was out last Friday knocking on doors for the census when police in an undercover car stopped him to ask what he was doing, he said. They then started harassing him about his brother who has warrants out for his arrest, he said. They ended up giving him three tickets for traffic violations, which he said were not justified.

I felt scared, intimidated, threatened and racially profiled,” said the written complaint that Avila said he filed Monday with the police department.

Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen said his department will be fully investigating the complaint.

But Wahlen said, “We have a right to ask about his brother.”

His brother, Steve Avila II, has nine warrants out for his arrest for traffic violations, Wahlen said.

Avila said once he told police he didn’t know anything about his brother they should have let him continue with his job.

I was treated unfairly,” he said to The Journal Times Monday.

Representatives from the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed Alexander Avila works for the Census and Muriel Jackson, spokeswoman for the bureau, said “we will look into this.”

Avila’s grandmother, Maria Morales, coordinator for Voces de la Frontera in Racine, reported the incident to the Journal Times and Avila confirmed it. Both are U.S. citizens, they said.

Voces de la Frontera is a Wisconsin nonprofit that works to help low-wage and immigrant workers.

Morales has been involved with events to address racial profiling and police harassment and she couldn’t believe now it happened to her grandson.

Police stopped Avila when he started on his route on the 1100 block of Erie Street, he said.

When police stopped him they asked him what he was doing and he told them he was working going door to door trying to collect information for the 2010 Census and showed them his identification, he said. They then questioned the validity of his identification and then when they saw his name they started asking about his brother. He told them he did not know where his brother is and does not talk to him. But one of the officers accused him of lying , Avila said . Then the officer told him that he had seen him driving and said he failed to signal when he turned at State Street, Avila added. They also told him he was driving suspiciously, Avila said in his complaint. He told officers he has a binder full of addresses for people he has to contact and he said he was having trouble finding some of the addresses.

Then police accused him of reading the binder while he was driving, but he said he was not reading while he was driving.

I knew the address and street numbers but … I just had a difficult time finding them,” he said in the complaint.

He ended up receiving three tickets for failure to signal, inattentive driving and obstruction of vision because he had two small necklaces hanging from his rearview mirror, he said.

He said he filed the complaint because he was treated unfairly and didn’t want it to go unreported.

I just want them to know they cannot go around and harass someone for no reason,” Avila said. “I don’t want to be afraid.”

New Jersey city files lawsuit against the Census Bureau

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

It’s getting pretty trendy to file lawsuits against the Census Bureau. Here’s another one from New Jersey:

Irvington files suit against Census bureau

By Richard Khavkine/For The Star-Ledger

April 20, 2010, 5:10AM

IRVINGTON – Residents in an apartment complex of more than 1,700 households did not receive their Census forms, and township officials, fearing the loss of millions of federal dollars, have sued the Census Bureau alleging a breach of its constitutional mandate.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court, seeks a court order compelling the agency to send a team of workers to the Maple Gardens apartments, a four-tower complex near Springfield and Maple avenues that is home to about 5,000 people.

According to recent estimates, the gated community’s residents could comprise as much as 9 percent of the township’s entire population.

“I’m very concerned,” Mayor Wayne Smith said Monday. “That is a glaring omission.”

Although its ostensible purpose is to count the population, the Census also helps policy makers determine how to disburse $400 billion in federal funding each year.

“Dollars tend to be commensurate with your population,” Smith said, alluding to federal funds that help pay for facilities and services, such as road construction projects, job training centers and schools.

According to the latest American Community Survey, which tracks demographic trends between Censuses, Irvington’s population dipped to about 56,000 in 2008, a 60-year low. The township, hit hard by foreclosures, had a population of 60,695 a decade ago, according to the 2000 Census.

“Who knows what they missed in the rest of the township?” said township attorney, Marvin T. Braker, adding, “You can’t exclude that many people. It’s just fundamentally unfair.”

The suit also seeks an extension of the April 16 deadline to mail in the forms.

A Census spokeswoman said the agency has contingency plans to help it account for large swaths of populations that might have been missed, such as that cited by the township. One possible solution would be to set up a Census station in the buildings’ lobbies.

“One way we try to cover all bases would be to set up a table in the lobby,” said Yolanda Finley, who had not seen the suit and could not comment on the township’s allegation that no forms were mailed to the complex. “There are all kinds of arrangements made to count in a building that size.”

Smith, though, said he was skeptical.

“I’m not assured that what they’re going to do is going to be enough,” he said. “Whatever they need to do, they need to do more, because they made the mistake.”

According to the Census Bureau, it costs 42 cents to obtain a mailed-back Census form. Getting a household’s responses in person if residents have not mailed back the form costs upward of $57.

The township’s Census response rate is currently 44 percent, below the nation’s 69 percent rate, according to the bureau’s most recent figures.

Finley said that residents who had not received Census forms could call (866) 877-6868 to have one mailed.

Government Will Not End Raids Prior To 2010 Census

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Check out the following little discussed story from the Associated Press that shows the Obama Administration taking an immigrant unfriendly position:

WASHINGTON (AP) — With the 2010 census six months away, the Commerce Department said Thursday it won’t seek a halt to immigrationraids as it did in the previous census in hopes of improving participation in hard-to-count communities.

In a statement, the department said it is committed to an accurate count of U.S. residents, including both legal and illegal immigrants. Spokesman Nick Kimball said officials will not ask the Homeland Security Department to stop large-scale immigration raids during the high stakes count that begins April 1.

That position is a departure from the one taken in the 2000 census, when immigration officials at the request of the Census Bureau informally agreed not to conduct raids. The bureau two years ago asked DHS to hold off again in 2010, but that was rejected by the Bush administration, which said it would continue to enforce federal laws.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department echoed that position and said it would not be revisiting the matter.

”Our job is to count every resident once, and in the right place, and that’s what we do,” Kimball said. ”All the information the Census Bureau collects is protected by law and will not be shared with any other agency. Neither the Commerce Department nor the Census Bureau will ask DHS to refrain from exercising their lawful authority.”

It remained unclear what Commerce’s stance might have on the likelihood of immigration raids next year. In recent months, the government has said it was seeking to shift enforcement efforts more toward criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants as well as cases in which an illegal immigrant may pose a safety threat to the community.

The Commerce statement comes as the Census Bureau enters the final stretch of preparations for the decennial count, which is used to apportion House seats and distribute nearly $450 billion in federal aid. With an effort to overhaul U.S. immigration laws expected to take place sometime next year, Census Director Robert Groves has said he’s particularly worried that tensions over immigration will deter people from participating in the count.