‘When we look at hard to count populations—the groups of people less likely to participate in the census—that is our target in terms of outreach…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) The U.S. Census Bureau is reportedly looking into whether the agency can hire non-U.S. citizens to assist with its 2020 count by exploiting a loophole in federal hiring standards.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the Census Bureau is having a hard time finding enough legal, able workers to staff its 2020 count, so it’s trying to obtain an exception from the federal government to hire non-citizens.
Federal employees are legally required to be U.S. citizens, but it is possible to skirt that rule through a set of legal loopholes under certain circumstances. For example, if a government agency needs a temporary translator, it can hire an immigrant seeking citizenship, legally admitted refugee, or an immigrant granted asylum for no more than 60 days “on an emergency basis.”
Tim Olson, associate director for field operations at the Census Bureau, told U.S. News that it is not actively exploring other exceptions.
“There are flexibilities within the Appropriation Act that would permit, for example, based on language requirements, some exemptions,” he said. “We are actively working through those flexibilities to see if they can be used in 2020. We are not there yet.”
The bureau denied that it planned to hire illegal aliens: “There is nowhere in our legal flexibilities that refers to people we could possibly hire as ‘illegal,’” a bureau spokesperson said. But when pressed, the spokesperson admitted that a “non-citizen” employee is “anyone who is not a U.S. citizen.”
This isn’t the first time the Census Bureau has hired non-citizens. During the 2010 census under the Obama administration, the bureau was allowed to hire non-citizens, and it did.
Olson said the bureau’s outreach is a testament to how diverse the U.S. has become.
“Our country is increasingly diverse, language wise, culture, race, ethnicity,” he said. “This country is getting more and more diverse all the time. When we look at hard to count populations—the groups of people less likely to participate in the census—that is our target in terms of outreach.”