Census Bureau to keep guidelines on race/ethnicity from 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau, under President Donald Trump’s administration, won’t aid requests from the Barack Obama administration to change how the government addresses race and ethnicity.

In a memo announced by Decennial Census Program, Associate Director Albert Fontenot Jr. explained the agency’s reasoning.

“In accordance with current OMB standards, the 2018 End-to-End Census Test and the 2020 Census will use two separate questions for collecting data on race and ethnicity,” read Fontenot’s memo. “There were a variety of changes considered during the past decade. While some of these changes will be implemented, others will not.”

According to a statement from Census officials, “The 2020 Census race and ethnicity questions will follow a two-question format for capturing race and ethnicity for both the 2018 Census Test and the 2020 Census, which adheres to the 1997 Standards for the Classification of Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity set by the Office of Management and Budget. The Census Bureau will not include a combined question format for collecting Hispanic origin and race, or a separate Middle Eastern or North African category on the Census form. The upcoming 2018 Census Test in Providence County, R.I., which begins on March 16, will reflect the proposed 2020 Census race and ethnicity questions.”

Last week, Trump discussed coming to a bipartisan deal on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiaries and other undocumented immigrants, but his proposed immigration reform would postpone their citizenship for 10 to 12 years. Postponing their citizenship would also postpone their right to vote.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said that the Trump administration’s actions are another demonstration of the anti-diversity movement gaining ground in certain parts of the United States.

“America is more diverse than ever,” said Gupta in a statement. “Accurate, detailed data are an essential tool for ensuring equal opportunity and access to the nation’s institutions and resources for all people, but especially those who have been victims of discrimination historically. The Trump administration has clearly bowed to opponents of diversity and those who view immigrants as a threat to the nation’s future, rather than as a defining characteristic of our nation’s strength and leadership in the world.”

Diana Pliego, policy associate at the National Immigration Law Center, expressed similar sentiments.

“This is just another ploy to hold protections for immigrant youth hostage to enact his white supremacist agenda,” said Pliego in a statement. “The solution for immigrant youth should be focused narrowly on resolving the crisis Trump created. It should not be a vehicle to harm immigrant families and communities.”

According to the Census Bureau, as directed by law, the operational plan and planned 2020 Census questionnaire will be handed in to Congress by March 31.