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2020 Census Count Extended Through October

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U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in the Northern District of California has sided with the city of Los Angeles, non-profits and other local governments that sued the Trump Administration last month over its decision to cut the 2020 Census short.

Today, Judge Koh ordered a preliminary injunction to keep the U.S. Census Bureau counting through Oct. 31.

The plaintiffs filed suit after the Trump administration abruptly moved up the census deadline to Sept. 30. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer had argued that a shortened census would mean a less accurate count, one that could potentially cause a decade of harm for Los Angeles by stifling political representation and federal funding for critical public services.

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"This has been one of the more dramatic cases in which I have ever been involved, and the drama is going to continue for a while," Feuer told LAist Thursday night. "It's drama with education and transportation and whoever is going to represent us in Congress at stake. The stakes are very high."

Feuer expects the Trump Administration to appeal the order.

"They're going to try to take it to the Supreme Court and we're going to fight every step of the way," Feuer said.

Los Angeles County is considered one of the hardest-to-count regions in the nation, and local leaders and census advocates pointed out that a shortened census could exacerbate those risks. So far, only about two-thirds of L.A. County households have completed the questionnaire on their own.

Internal documents produced by the U.S. Census Bureau as part of the lawsuit showed that top officials within the agency shared some of the plaintiff’s concerns: One email from Associate Director Tim Olson read that it was, “ludicrous to think we can complete 100% of the nation’s data collection earlier than 10/31.”

The judge's order gives census enumerators and advocates extra time to do their work. This means more attempts to reach non-responsive households, and more time to encourage residents in hard-to-count communities -- many of which are home to renters, immigrants, and low-income families -- to respond on their own over the phone, via internet, or by mail.


What's at stake for Southern California in the 2020 Census? Billions of dollars in federal funding for programs like Medi-Cal, for public education, even disaster planning. Political representation in Sacramento and D.C. A census undercount could cut critical resources in L.A. County, home to the largest hard-to-count population in the nation.

It's not too late to be counted on the 2020 Census website.