Hamad: Deadline for Census should be extended amid global pandemic
There is no doubt that the nation, indeed the whole world, is going exceptional trying times due to the COVID 19 pandemic. This pandemic requires an extraordinary response. We are living through challenging times and we need to make changes to cope with the world we live in today.
The Constitution requires an enumeration of the population every ten years. The US Census bureau is tasked with this extremely important task. There are set dates for carrying out this undertaking. The Census Bureau has a deadline of December 2020 to submit its report to the US Congress.
Even COVID 19, there were obstacles facing the Census. One of them is trust, another is staffing. Forms were sent in the mail to millions of Americans. People could respond to the forms online- the preferred method of the Census. Otherwise, forms could be mailed or form could be completed on the phone.
The Census has always had difficulty reaching minorities and people who have transient living arrangement. These populations require a higher percentage of face to face collection of data. And this is a problem now since we have required social distancing to try to reduce the spread of the virus.
To obtain and assure accurate count, there is not alternate to the field visits to households that are hard to reach. Both census staffers as well as household residents are in a tough position now. There is fear of contracting the virus. Our medical establishment has repeatedly said that social distancing is key to help contain the corona spread and the responsible thing to do.
Recognizing the challenges facing the country, President Trump wisely extended the deadline for filing taxes. President Trump should issue an executive order permitting the census bureau to extend the April 1 date for another three months. This extension will serve as a much needed relief to all the census bureau staffers who are like the first responders and medical teams, on the front lines dealing with the public. Such extension under these exceptional circumstances is justified.
I hope that President Trump will grant such much needed extension immediately. This extension will help the Census and all of its partners to hopefully accomplish the mission of counting everyone, no matter how hard they are to reach and via which method. Otherwise, we will undercount and that would not achieve the constitutional mandate of enumerating the whole population of the United States.
Imad Hamad , Executive Director of the American Human Rights Council.
- By Imad Hamad For MediaNews Group
- Mar 25, 2020