In Arizona Tribes' Lawsuit, Judge Halts Plans To Speed Up 2020 Census Count

Published: Monday, September 7, 2020 - 8:23pm

A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order in a lawsuit over the U.S. government’s timeline to complete the 2020 census count. For now, the government will have to continue with plans to keep the count going through October. Two Arizona Native American tribes are among the plaintiffs in the case. 

The deadline for Census counting had been Oct. 31, but last month, the Trump administration announced plans to cut that short and stop counting at the end of September. The Navajo and Gila River tribes joined civil rights groups in a lawsuit saying the expedited plan would harm hard-to-count communities. 

A federal judge in California Saturday allowed the temporary restraining order. A preliminary injunction hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 17.

"The federal government has undermined the time, planning, and resources that the Navajo Nation had dedicated to the Census count by shortening the time period by an entire month and now we are seeking a resolution through the courts," Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez said in a press release.

The Navajo Nation so far has just an 18.2% census response rate. The tribe depends on census data for federal services but the COVID-19 outbreak on the reservation has made counting even more difficult than usual.

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