After several top Democrats demanded his resignation last week, U.S. Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham has announced that he would step down on Inauguration Day.
“Let me make it clear that under other circumstances I would be honored to serve President-Elect (Joe) Biden just as I served the past five presidents,” Dillingham said in a statement issued on Monday.
Dillingham, 68, was appointed to the position by President Donald J. Trump in 2019.
The Associated Press reports, “Democratic lawmakers called on Dillingham to resign after a watchdog agency said he had set a deadline that pressured statisticians to produce a report on the number of people in the U.S. illegally.” Dillingham’s effort to produce the citizenship data complied with an order from President Trump.
According to the AP: “A report by the Office of Inspector General last week said bureau workers were under significant pressure from two Trump political appointees to figure out who is in the U.S. illegally using federal and state administrative records, and Dillingham had set a Friday deadline for bureau statisticians to provide him a technical report on the effort.” The outlet quoted one whistleblower who called the work “statistically indefensible.”
“From what I understand, the reported whistleblower concerns appear to be misunderstandings regarding the planned process for the review and potential postings of data, and the agreed upon need to apply data quality standards,” Dillingham said.
After the IG’s report was released last week, several civil rights organizations and Democrats asked for Dillingham’s resignation. He then ended the project.
“Rather than ensure an accurate count, Dr. Dillingham appears to have acceded repeatedly to the Trump Administration’s brazen efforts to politicize the Census,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), a progressive who also chairs the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
#BREAKING: Chair @RepMaloney calls for Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham to resign from his position after failing to lead the Bureau to produce a fair, accurate, and complete 2020 census count. Americans deserve better.
— Oversight Committee (@OversightDems) January 15, 2021
“He must resign,” said Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), head of the Congressional Asian Pacific America Caucus. “If he doesn’t resign, then President Biden would have to immediately replace him with a census director who can oversee the completion of the 2020 census.”
Last week, Politico reported that “some Democrats and advocates are worried that the outgoing administration will move to manipulate the data for political gain.”
During Dillingham’s tenure, the Trump administration unsuccessfully tried to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire, and the president issued two directives that advocacy groups said were part of efforts to suppress the participation of minorities and immigrants in the head count of every U.S. resident.
Trump’s first directive, issued in 2019, instructed the Census Bureau to use administrative records to figure out who is in the country illegally after the Supreme Court blocked the citizenship question. In the second directive last year, Trump instructed the Census Bureau to provide data that would allow his administration to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from the numbers used for divvying up congressional seats among the states. … Trump’s unprecedented order on apportionment was challenged in more than a half-dozen lawsuits around the U.S., but the Supreme Court ruled last month that any challenge was premature.
A spokesman for the Census Bureau told the AP that Ron Jarmin, the agency’s chief operating officer, would take over Dillingham’s duties.