In a week of changes, Pa. remains uncertain about census data

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    In a week full of changes, the U.S. Census Bureau and decennial census count were not immune.

    On Monday, with just two days left in the Trump presidency, former Census Director and Trump appointee Steven Dillingham resigned, leaving Acting Director Ron Jarmin to take the reins under the new Biden administration,  adding to the uncertainty of when the first state population counts would be available. 

    On Wednesday, In one of his first acts in office, President Joe Biden implemented a slew of new changes, aimed at reversing many Trump-era policies, including a reversal of one that excluded undocumented immigrants from state population counts, which are used in the congressional reapportionment process. 

    Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration, which condemned the move by Trump in July, said it  supported Biden’s reversal of the policy.

    The administration supports President Biden’s day-one executive order to revoke the prior administration’s orders setting out an unlawful plan to exclude non-citizens from the census and apportionment of Congressional representatives,” Lyndsay Kensinger, a spokesperson for Wolf, told the Capital-Star. 

    With approximately $26.8 billion in federal funding on the line, Kensinger said organizations across the commonwealth are asking the federal government to ensure everyone is counted. 

    “… It is still critically important that all Pennsylvanians are counted, no matter who they are or where they live,” Kensinger said.

    In a statement Thursday, the Census Bureau said it is “implementing the president’s executive order,” adding, “All work on the immigration status of the population of the United States regarding the 2020 Census was suspended on January 12.”

    In Pennsylvania, the changes at the federal level could mean more delays as the bureau works to correct “irregularities,” but state officials aren’t sure.

    “The Pennsylvania Complete Count Commission is working on a final report to the governor, however nearly all developments related to the census count are currently occurring at the federal level,” Kensinger said. “We will have a clearer picture of a plan once their replacement takes office.”

    Cassie Miller
    A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller has an extensive background in magazine writing, editing and design. She is a graduate of Penn State University where she served as the campus newspaper’s photo editor. She is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.