Something is getting lost in translation at the Census Bureau.
Last year, Census officials said they had no plans to hire non-citizens to work on the 2020 count.
This summer, the agency reversed course and announced it would temporarily hire non-U.S. citizens, ostensibly to help reach non-English speakers and immigrant communities.
When asked whether the bureau would employ individuals living in this country illegally, a spokesman said, “There is nowhere in our legal flexibilities that refers to people we could possibly hire as ‘illegal.’”
But when pressed as to whether that’s an option under consideration, the spokesman acknowledged the term “non-citizen” broadly includes “anyone who is not a U.S. citizen.”
With the Census bureau yet to clarify whether it will put illegal aliens on the payroll, Judicial Watch last month sued the agency in an attempt to get a straight answer.
Some 4,000 non-citizen translators were hired under an “excepted service provision” during the 2010 Census. It remains unclear how many, if any, of those temporary hires were illegal aliens.
“Excepted service provisions” and “legal flexibilities” notwithstanding, U.S. immigration law prohibits employment of non-citizens unless they are lawfully admitted for permanent residence or legally authorized to be employed here. The Census Bureau appears to be angling for its own ad-hoc authorization to open its employment line to people in this country illegally.
Those optics aren’t good, and do not enhance the accuracy of the decennial count. Involving illegal aliens in the enumeration process can only undermine its credibility with the taxpaying public.
Meantime, the Trump administration has backed off plans to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. The question, which regularly appeared on census forms before 2010, was attacked by immigrant groups and others claiming it would drive down responses.
But in a test sample conducted by the bureau, response rates to forms containing or omitting the question showed little if any variance.