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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Population"

Justice Dept. Reverses Course on Citizenship Question on Census, Citing Trump’s Orders

Westlake Legal Group merlin_157376691_5277ace4-6fd3-4cab-b1ab-e833e786440d-facebookJumbo Justice Dept. Reverses Course on Citizenship Question on Census, Citing Trump’s Orders United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Ross, Wilbur L Jr Population Justice Department Commerce Department Citizenship and Naturalization census

WASHINGTON — A day after pledging that the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, Justice Department officials reversed course on Wednesday and said they were hunting for a way to restore the question on orders from President Trump.

The contentious issue of whether next year’s all-important head count would include a citizenship question appeared to be settled — until the president began vowing on Twitter Wednesday that the administration was “absolutely moving forward” with plans, despite logistical and legal barriers.

President Trump’s comments prompted a chaotic chain of events, with senior census planners closeted in emergency meetings and the Justice Department summoned to a phone conference with a federal judge in Maryland to explain itself.

On Wednesday afternoon, Justice Department officials told the judge that their plan had changed in the span of 24 hours: They now believed there could be “a legally available path” to restore the question to the census, and they planned to ask the Supreme Court to help speed the resolution of lawsuits that are blocking their way.

The reversal sends the future of the census — which is used to determine the distribution of congressional seats and federal dollars — back into uncertain territory.

The Supreme Court last week rejected the administration’s stated reason for adding the citizenship question as contrived. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, left open the chance the administration could offer an adequate rationale.

Faced with tight printing deadlines, administration officials said on Tuesday that it was time to abandon the effort and begin printing forms this week that do not contain the citizenship question.

Justice Department lawyers told United States District Judge George J. Hazel in a telephone conference that a decision to eliminate the question from census forms had been made “for once and for all.” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the Census Bureau, issued a separate statement accepting the outcome.

But a day later, an extraordinary scene played out on a conference phone call between Judge Hazel and Justice Department officials, who appeared to be blindsided by the president’s comments online.

On Wednesday afternoon, Judge Hazel opened the call by saying that President Trump’s tweet had gotten his attention. “I don’t know how many federal judges have Twitter accounts, but I happen to be one of them, and I follow the President,” he said.

Joshua Gardner, a Justice Department special counsel for executive branch litigation, responded: “The tweet this morning was the first I had heard of the President’s position on this issue, just like the plaintiffs and Your Honor.”

He added: “I do not have a deeper understanding of what that means at this juncture other than what the President has tweeted. But, obviously, as you can imagine, I am doing my absolute best to figure out what’s going on.”

Mr. Gardner said that printing of census forms without the citizenship question was continuing, and that federal court rulings barring its inclusion, upheld in part by the Supreme Court, were still in force. But he added that he could not promise that would remain the case.

“This is a fluid situation and perhaps that might change,” he said, “but we’re just not there yet, and I can’t possibly predict at this juncture what exactly is going to happen.”

That seemed an apt summation of the entire census process, which has lurched from lawsuit to crisis and back since the citizenship issue arose, and seemed on the verge of being upended on Wednesday.

Looming over the latest disruptions was a July 1 deadline to begin printing 2020 census materials — a deadline that the Justice Department said could not be stretched without imperiling the schedule for the census itself.

Since Mr. Ross tacked the citizenship question onto the census in March 2018, long after other aspects of the questionnaire had been settled, the Census Bureau has been at the center of a ferocious partisan battle over the 2020 head count, its carefully tended reputation for trustworthiness and political impartiality all but shredded.

An army of critics, from cities and states to ethnic and civil-rights advocates, have argued that the question is an ill-disguised effort to skew the census’s results to the benefit of the Republican Party. That was only reinforced by the disclosure last month of a 2015 study by a Republican strategist, Thomas B. Hofeller, that explained how data from a citizenship question could be used to exclude noncitizens from the populations bases used in redistricting. The newly drawn districts, he wrote, would tilt toward non-Hispanic whites and Republicans and hobble representation of Hispanics and Democrats.

Mr. Hofeller, who died last year, was the first person to urge President-elect Trump’s transition team in 2016 to add the question to the 2020 head count. Three separate federal courts — in New York, Maryland and California — have ruled that the Commerce Department violated federal procedural law and the Constitution in tacking the question onto the census, calling the department’s rationale — to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act — an obvious cover for some other motive.

On Wednesday, Judge Hazel ratcheted up the pressure on the administration to make up its mind, ordering the Trump administration either to confirm by Friday afternoon that it was not placing the citizenship question on the census questionnaire, or offer a schedule for continuing the Maryland lawsuit.

“Given that tomorrow is the Fourth of July and the difficulty of assembling people from all over the place, is it possible that we could do this on Monday?” Mr. Gardner asked.

“No,” the judge replied. “I’ve been told different things, and it’s becoming increasingly frustrating.”

As Judge Hazel spoke with the two sides in the Maryland case, the federal district judge overseeing the New York lawsuit ordered the Justice Department to update him on those discussions so he could decide whether to schedule a similar conference in that suit.

On Wednesday afternoon, White House officials were actively working on a way to satisfy Mr. Trump’s demand but had not yet settled on a solution.

The Justice Department ultimately acted under pressure from President Trump, who had reacted angrily to the Supreme Court’s handling of the census case and insisted that his administration move forward despite the court’s ruling. Mr. Trump had blamed Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, in particular of the handling of the census question.

The suggestion that Mr. Trump was prepared to charge ahead on adding a citizenship question stirred fears among opponents of the plan who hoped the debate had been put to rest.

Attorney General Letitia James of New York, whose office headed the census lawsuit that led to the Supreme Court ruling last week, dismissed Mr. Trump’s statement as “another attempt to sow chaos and confusion.”

“The Supreme Court of the United States has spoken, and Trump’s own Commerce Department has spoken,” she said in a statement. “It’s time to move forward to ensure every person in the country is counted.”

Census results are used to determine House of Representatives seats and for drawing political maps at all levels of government across the country. They are also used to allot federal funding for social services.

Adding the citizenship question could lead to an undercounting in areas with large numbers of immigrants, who tend to vote Democratic, potentially costing Democrats representation and government funding.

The defeat before the court came as a surprise to Mr. Trump, who for months was assured that the change was on track, and has placed Mr. Ross back in the hot seat.

Earlier in Mr. Trump’s term, the president soured on Mr. Ross’s handling of trade negotiations and suggested that the 81-year-old investor had lost his deal-making touch. Mr. Ross has largely avoided the president’s ire since then, but the census matter has continued to dog him.

Mr. Ross has also drawn anger from Democrats in Congress for offering shifting explanations about who he spoke with to determine the legality of adding the citizenship question. In 2018 he acknowledged that he had discussed the issue with Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former political strategist, after originally claiming he talked about it only with the Justice Department.

Administration officials said that the president was not planning to fire Mr. Ross, but that the situation had renewed concerns about his performance.

By Wednesday afternoon, whatever frustration that Mr. Trump had with the commerce secretary had largely dissipated, a second administration official said, and the president was focused on finding a way to add a question to the census. Mr. Trump told aides that might mean tacking on a question after census questionnaires had been printed.

Mr. Ross’s department will soon have to clarify the status of the census publicly. The House Oversight Committee said Wednesday that the director of the Census Bureau, Steven Dillingham, would appear before a subcommittee on July 24 to review preparations for the 2020 head count.

“It is time for the Census Bureau to move beyond all the outside political agendas and distractions and devote its full attention to preparing for the 2020 census,” Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat on the committee, said in a statement.

A Commerce Department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Justice Department Reverses Course on Citizenship Question on Census, Citing Trump’s Orders

Westlake Legal Group merlin_157376691_5277ace4-6fd3-4cab-b1ab-e833e786440d-facebookJumbo Justice Department Reverses Course on Citizenship Question on Census, Citing Trump’s Orders United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Ross, Wilbur L Jr Population Justice Department Commerce Department Citizenship and Naturalization census

WASHINGTON — A day after pledging that the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, the Justice Department reversed course on Wednesday and said it was hunting for a way to restore the question on orders from President Trump.

Officials told a federal judge in Maryland that they thought there would be a way to still add the question, despite printing deadlines, and that they would ask the Supreme Court to send the case to district court with instructions to remedy the situation.

President Trump had been frustrated with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for mishandling the White House’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to an administration official, and said on Wednesday that he was “absolutely moving forward” with plans to add it despite a Supreme Court decision last week rejecting the move.

It was the second time that Mr. Trump said he was directing the Commerce Department to move forward with the plan, which critics contend is part of an administration effort to skew the census results in favor of Republicans. On Tuesday, the Justice Department said that the census forms were being printed without the citizenship question and Mr. Ross said that he was heeding the court’s ruling.

But the president, who has not shied away from testing the boundaries of executive power, is not letting the matter go.

“The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!” Mr. Trump wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.”

The Supreme Court last week rejected the administration’s stated reason for adding a question on citizenship to the census. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority, said the explanation offered by officials for adding the question “appears to have been contrived.” But he left open the chance the administration could offer an adequate rationale.

On Wednesday afternoon, White House officials were actively working on a way to satisfy Mr. Trump’s demand but had not yet settled on a solution.

The suggestion that Mr. Trump was prepared to defy the court’s decision stirred fears among opponents of the plan who hoped the debate over the citizenship question had been put to rest.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing plaintiffs in legal cases in Maryland, quickly condemned the president’s remarks.

“We are outraged at Trump’s tweet,” Denise Hulett, the group’s national senior counsel, said in a statement. “The Census Bureau must immediately commit to counteract his statements with the truth — that the citizenship question will not be on the census.”

Three separate federal courts — in Manhattan, Maryland and California — have ruled that the Commerce Department violated federal procedural law and the Constitution in hastily tacking the citizenship question onto the census last year. The Supreme Court upheld the Manhattan ruling last week.

Separately, an appeals court has ordered the Maryland case reopened to consider new evidence on a third charge: that Mr. Ross’s decision to add the question amounts to intentional discrimination against Hispanics, who are considered most likely to be undercounted out of fear of the consequences of revealing their citizenship status or the status of people who live with them. About one in 10 American households includes at least one noncitizen.

Judge George J. Hazel of the United States District Court, who is overseeing the Maryland lawsuits, unexpectedly summoned lawyers in the case to a conference call on Wednesday afternoon, Ms. Hulett said. Judge Hazel later ordered the Trump administration to confirm by Friday afternoon that it is not placing the citizenship question on the census questionnaire, lawyers for plaintiffs in the case said.

Absent that confirmation, the judge said, the Maryland lawsuit will continue.

Attorney General Letitia James of New York, whose office headed the census lawsuit that led to the Supreme Court ruling last week, dismissed Mr. Trump’s statement as “another attempt to sow chaos and confusion.”

“The Supreme Court of the United States has spoken, and Trump’s own Commerce Department has spoken,” she said in a statement. “It’s time to move forward to ensure every person in the country is counted.”

The federal district judge in Manhattan overseeing that lawsuit, Jesse M. Furman, ordered the Justice Department on Thursday to brief him on the conference with Judge Hazel so he can decide whether a similar conference is needed in the Manhattan case.

Mr. Trump’s statements directly contradicted both the Justice Department and the Commerce Department, which had stated in writing that the next census will not include a question on citizenship.

Mr. Ross said in a statement on Tuesday that “the Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question.” And in a teleconference on Tuesday conducted by Judge Hazel, Justice Department lawyers confirmed that the government would take no further legal steps to add the citizenship question to the questionnaire.

Regulatory and legal experts largely agree that the administration’s chances of retaining the question were exceedingly dim in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to block it.

The administration itself had argued to the justices only this month that legal challenges to the question had to be resolved because the printing of census forms could not be delayed past early July. But the only avenue the court left open to restoring the question — producing and winning approval of a new explanation justifying it — would have taken weeks, if not months, to complete.

Census results are used to determine House of Representatives seats and for drawing political maps at all levels of government across the country. They are also used to allot federal funding for social services.

Adding the citizenship question could lead to an undercounting in areas with large numbers of immigrants, who tend to vote Democratic, potentially costing Democrats representation and government funding.

The defeat before the court came as a surprise to Mr. Trump, who for months was assured that the change was on track, and has placed Mr. Ross back in the hot seat.

Earlier in Mr. Trump’s term, the president soured on Mr. Ross’s handling of trade negotiations and suggested that the 81-year-old billionaire investor had lost his deal-making touch. Mr. Ross has largely avoided the president’s ire since then, but the census matter has continued to dog him.

Mr. Ross has also drawn anger from Democrats in Congress for offering shifting explanations about who he spoke with to determine the legality of adding the citizenship question. In 2018 he acknowledged that he had discussed the issue with Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s former political strategist, after originally claiming he talked about it only with the Justice Department.

Administration officials said that the president was not planning to fire Mr. Ross, but that the situation had renewed concerns about his performance.

By Wednesday afternoon, whatever frustration that Mr. Trump had with the commerce secretary had largely dissipated, a second administration official said, and the president was focused on finding a way to add a question to the census. Mr. Trump told aides that might mean tacking on a question after census questionnaires had been printed.

Mr. Ross’s department will soon have to clarify the status of the census publicly. The House Oversight Committee said Wednesday that the director of the Census Bureau, Steven Dillingham, would appear before a subcommittee on July 24 to review preparations for the 2020 head count.

“It is time for the Census Bureau to move beyond all the outside political agendas and distractions and devote its full attention to preparing for the 2020 census,” Representative Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat on the committee, said in a statement.

A Commerce Department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Vows to Move Forward With Citizenship Question on Census

Westlake Legal Group merlin_157376691_5277ace4-6fd3-4cab-b1ab-e833e786440d-facebookJumbo Trump Vows to Move Forward With Citizenship Question on Census United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Ross, Wilbur L Jr Population Justice Department Commerce Department Citizenship and Naturalization census

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Wednesday that the Commerce Department is “absolutely moving forward” with plans to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, contradicting statements made by his Department of Justice and Wilbur Ross, the Commerce secretary, and calling reports based on them “fake.”

It was the second time in two days that Mr. Trump said he was directing the Commerce Department to defy a decision made by the Supreme Court last week that blocked the plan, which critics contend is part of an administration effort to skew the census results in favor of Republicans. On Tuesday, the Justice Department said that the census was being printed without the citizenship question and Mr. Ross said that he was heeding the court’s ruling.

But the president is not letting the matter go.

“The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE!” Mr. Trump wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question.”

[Why experts are worried about the 2020 census]

Mr. Trump’s statements notwithstanding, both the Justice Department and the Commerce Department have stated in writing that the next census will not include a question on citizenship.

Mr. Ross said in a statement on Tuesday that “the Census Bureau has started the process of printing the decennial questionnaires without the question.” And in a teleconference on Tuesday conducted by the federal judge overseeing two Maryland lawsuits on the issue, Justice Department lawyers confirmed that the government would take no further legal steps to add the citizenship question to the questionnaire.

Regulatory and legal experts largely agree that the administration’s chances of retaining the question were exceedingly dim in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to block it.

[What you need to know about the citizenship question and the census]

The administration itself had argued to the justices only this month that legal challenges to the question had to be resolved because the printing of census forms could not be delayed past early July. But the only avenue the court left open to restoring the question — producing and winning approval of a new explanation justifying it — would have taken weeks, if not months, to complete.

Census results are used to determine House of Representatives seats and for drawing political maps at all levels of government across the country. They are also used to allot federal funding for social services. Adding the citizenship question could lead to an undercounting in areas with large numbers of immigrants, who tend to vote Democratic, potentially costing Democrats representation and government funding.

A Commerce Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hacking, Glitches, Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About the 2020 Census

In the run-up to the 2020 census, the government has embraced technology as never before, hoping to halt the ballooning cost of the decennial head count. For the first time, households will have the option of responding online, and field workers going door to door will be equipped with smartphones to log the information they collect.

To make it all work, the Census Bureau needed more computing power and digital storage space, so it turned to cloud technology provided by Amazon Web Services.

What the bureau didn’t realize — until an audit last year — was that there was an unsecured door to sensitive data left open. Access credentials for an account with virtually unlimited privileges had been lost, potentially allowing a hacker to view, alter or delete information collected during recent field tests.

The Census Bureau says that it has closed off this vulnerability and that no information was compromised. But the discovery of the problem highlights the myriad risks facing next year’s all-important head count.

Most concerns about the census have been focused on the Trump administration’s effort to include a question about citizenship status, which officials said Tuesday they were abandoning after being blocked by the United States Supreme Court. But far less attention has been paid to other issues that could threaten the census’s accuracy.

[How is the census conducted? Here are some answers about the count and how it would have been affected by asking about citizenship.]

Each census is a staggering logistical lift, but the 2020 count presents challenges the Census Bureau has never confronted before.

The government has ambitious plans to use new digital methods to collect data. But the Census Bureau has had to scale back testing of that technology because of inadequate funding — raising the risk of problems ranging from software glitches to cyberattacks.

Also new is the threat of online disinformation campaigns reminiscent of the 2016 presidential cycle. The heated political discourse about the citizenship question has supplied ample fuel, and researchers say they are already beginning to see coordinated online efforts to undermine public trust in the census and to sow chaos and confusion.

The intense focus on the citizenship question “has drawn away energy and resources in ways that have really been counterproductive to the bureau’s efforts,” said Arturo Vargas, chief executive of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “To some extent, the bureau is going into 2020 blindfolded.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157080333_99f712f3-c347-4f7b-90d0-9f2bdf7c2e50-articleLarge Hacking, Glitches, Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About the 2020 Census Population Government Accountability Office Cyberwarfare and Defense Computers and the Internet census bureau census Amazon.com Inc

The Trump administration dropped efforts to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census after being blocked by the Supreme Court.CreditSamuel Corum for The New York Times

The consequences could be profound and enduring. Information gathered during the census is used to determine which states gain or lose seats in the House and votes in the Electoral College, to redraw congressional districts and to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding for a host of services, such as health care, education and affordable housing. Businesses rely heavily on the data to make decisions about where to open stores or ship goods.

The Census Bureau said that it has fixed problems identified during testing and is working with other government agencies and private companies to guard against technical mishaps, cyber-related vulnerabilities and the spread of misinformation. “We are confident in the resources we have to conduct a complete and accurate census,” the bureau said.

But the danger if anything goes wrong, said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former congressional staff member and longtime census expert, is that “public confidence plummets and people decide this is not going to be a good census so we’re not going to respond.”

“At that point,” she said, “we could be headed toward a failed census.”

Mandated by the Constitution, the census has been conducted without fail every 10 years since 1790. The first was conducted by United States marshals who traveled on horseback and asked residents just six basic questions.

Since then, the census has grown far more elaborate, though the process for conducting it — mailing out paper forms and relying heavily on field workers going door to door — remained essentially the same from 1970 through 2010.

Over time, however, costs have soared while response rates have declined. The average cost, in 2020 dollars, to count one housing unit increased from about $16 in 1970 to about $92 in 2010, a Government Accountability Office analysis found.

“We needed a breakthrough,” said Robert Groves, director of the bureau during the 2010 census. “We couldn’t continue the trend of inflating costs using the same methods.”

The transition to new technologies for 2020, such as issuing smartphones to field workers, represents a “huge jump” in the right direction, Mr. Groves said.

The greater use of data collected by other agencies, such as Medicare and Medicaid, could help identify vacant households, making more costly in-person follow-up visits unnecessary. Software that tracks field workers’ progress and directs them to optimal routes could save time.

Census Bureau files, circa 1949, contained a card for every person in the United States.CreditBettman Archive, via Getty Images Census geographers at the bureau’s headquarters in Suitland, Md., use images captured from satellites and planes to verify addresses in rural communities and compare them with previous maps.CreditU.S. Census Bureau, via Associated Press

For experts, the greater use of technology raises two primary questions: Does it work, and is it secure? The Census Bureau’s efforts to answer those questions have been hampered by inadequate resources.

Security tests of some IT systems that were originally supposed to take up to eight weeks had to be completed in about one week, the G.A.O. found. The bureau conducted its critical 2018 dress rehearsal, planned to take place in three communities, in just one: Providence County, R.I.

Though the bureau said it has fixed the problems identified during this dry run, the G.A.O. expressed concern over the missed opportunity to test new technology in places such as rural West Virginia or tribal land in Washington State — areas that would have been covered under the original plan.

“Our concern is that the bureau may not know what it doesn’t know,” said Robert Goldenkoff, director of the Government Accountability Office’s strategic issues team. “Not every place looks like Providence, Rhode Island.”

In Providence and during other, smaller-scale field tests, census workers encountered technological issues, the G.A.O. reported. A software glitch sent multiple canvassers to the same block. Some workers had trouble finding an internet connection to transmit the information they had collected. Others had trouble recording people’s responses in an application on their smartphones.

These types of small hang-ups, while manageable in one community, could amount to big problems on a national scale, G.A.O. has warned.

And then there is the risk of a cyberattack. The Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General, which discovered the cloud security problem last year during an audit, said the vulnerability it found was “potentially catastrophic.” If a hacker had gained access to the lost user credentials, the inspector general found, the Census Bureau “would have been powerless to stop an attacker from causing irreparable harm.”

Hackers could also target bureau employees with phishing emails containing links that, when clicked, install malware, for example. In 2016, a cyberattack forced a temporary shutdown of the Australian census’s online response site, prompting the social media hashtag #CensusFail.

The Census Bureau said it has been able to test its IT systems in a variety of settings and that its cybersecurity team “is partnering with federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the federal intelligence community, as well as industry experts to share threat intelligence information.”

“In the case we do face an incident,” the bureau said, “our team is prepared to take action to contain the threat and share information, as soon as possible, if there is any impact on the American public.”

The potential spread online of bogus or misleading information presents another novel risk.

“If you wanted to provoke fears among the population as to how the census data could be used,” said Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Stanford Law School who studies the interplay of technology and government, “the American population is fertile ground right now for conspiracy theories and manipulation.”

Balloons decorated Framingham City Hall during the 2020 Massachusetts Census Kickoff event in Framingham, Mass., in April.CreditSuzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe, via Getty Images

The controversy over the citizenship question could provide fodder for provocateurs seeking to spread falsehoods and confusion. Groups monitoring for this sort of content said they had already seen examples appearing, primarily on far-right websites.

Numerous experts cited a recent post on a neo-Nazi website urging people to apply for a job going door to door for the Census Bureau so they could report suspected noncitizens to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Doing so, however, would be illegal. Census workers are required to swear a lifetime oath not to disclose respondents’ personal information, including to other government agencies, under the penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

So far, such posts seem to originate within the United States, said Maria Filippelli, a public interest technology census fellow at New America. But she expects eventually to see foreign actors intervene as well.

“There are a lot of people who want to undermine our democracy, very similar to what we saw in the 2016 election,” she said.

The Census Bureau said it is working with big technology companies, including social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to detect and counter disinformation efforts. One way, the bureau said, is to make sure that accurate information is highlighted at the top of search results, while fake websites and misinformation are pushed to the bottom.

Facebook announced on Sunday that it is expanding its efforts to combat election interference to include bad information about the census or threats of violence toward anyone participating in it.

A Twitter spokesperson said the company has met several times with Census Bureau officials “to discuss the best ways to support a healthy conversation on Twitter regarding the 2020 Census.”

Given the distrust among groups that historically have been undercounted, the bureau’s efforts to build trust through partnerships with businesses and local community leaders will be both more important and more difficult than ever, census experts said.

Convincing the reluctant to respond “will require much more repetition than in the past,” Steve Jost, a former Census Bureau official, said.

Enlisting the aid of businesses to promote participation is proving much more challenging now, said Mr. Vargas, of the organization of Latino officials. In the past, he said, companies agreed to incorporate census-related messages in advertisements and store displays, for example. This cycle, that has changed, he said.

“I have not seen the level of reluctance among business leaders to participate in a census like this one,” Mr. Vargas said. “Business leaders are allergic to issues that are perceived to be controversial, especially if they have any kind of racial controversy mixed in.”

The greatest risk to the census, former officials say, is that the public loses faith in the legitimacy of an independent institution at the core of American democracy — whether because of a crashed website, a partisan fight or a drumbeat of disinformation.

“The price is poor quality data,” Mr. Jost said, “and the price of that lives with us for a decade.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hacking, Glitches, Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About the 2020 Census

In the run-up to the 2020 census, the government has embraced technology as never before, hoping to halt the ballooning cost of the decennial head count. For the first time, households will have the option of responding online, and field workers going door to door will be equipped with smartphones to log the information they collect.

To make it all work, the Census Bureau needed more computing power and digital storage space, so it turned to cloud technology provided by Amazon Web Services.

What the bureau didn’t realize — until an audit last year — was that there was an unsecured door to sensitive data left open. Access credentials for an account with virtually unlimited privileges had been lost, potentially allowing a hacker to view, alter or delete information collected during recent field tests.

The Census Bureau says that it has closed off this vulnerability and that no information was compromised. But the discovery of the problem highlights the myriad risks facing next year’s all-important head count.

Most concerns about the census have been focused on the Trump administration’s effort to include a question about citizenship status, which officials said Tuesday they were abandoning after being blocked by the United States Supreme Court. But far less attention has been paid to other issues that could threaten the census’s accuracy.

[How is the census conducted? Here are some answers about the count and how it would have been affected by asking about citizenship.]

Each census is a staggering logistical lift, but the 2020 count presents challenges the Census Bureau has never confronted before.

The government has ambitious plans to use new digital methods to collect data. But the Census Bureau has had to scale back testing of that technology because of inadequate funding — raising the risk of problems ranging from software glitches to cyberattacks.

Also new is the threat of online disinformation campaigns reminiscent of the 2016 presidential cycle. The heated political discourse about the citizenship question has supplied ample fuel, and researchers say they are already beginning to see coordinated online efforts to undermine public trust in the census and to sow chaos and confusion.

The intense focus on the citizenship question “has drawn away energy and resources in ways that have really been counterproductive to the bureau’s efforts,” said Arturo Vargas, chief executive of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “To some extent, the bureau is going into 2020 blindfolded.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157080333_99f712f3-c347-4f7b-90d0-9f2bdf7c2e50-articleLarge Hacking, Glitches, Disinformation: Why Experts Are Worried About the 2020 Census Population Government Accountability Office Cyberwarfare and Defense Computers and the Internet census bureau census Amazon.com Inc

The Trump administration dropped efforts to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 census after being blocked by the Supreme Court.CreditSamuel Corum for The New York Times

The consequences could be profound and enduring. Information gathered during the census is used to determine which states gain or lose seats in the House and votes in the Electoral College, to redraw congressional districts and to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding for a host of services, such as health care, education and affordable housing. Businesses rely heavily on the data to make decisions about where to open stores or ship goods.

The Census Bureau said that it has fixed problems identified during testing and is working with other government agencies and private companies to guard against technical mishaps, cyber-related vulnerabilities and the spread of misinformation. “We are confident in the resources we have to conduct a complete and accurate census,” the bureau said.

But the danger if anything goes wrong, said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former congressional staff member and longtime census expert, is that “public confidence plummets and people decide this is not going to be a good census so we’re not going to respond.”

“At that point,” she said, “we could be headed toward a failed census.”

Mandated by the Constitution, the census has been conducted without fail every 10 years since 1790. The first was conducted by United States marshals who traveled on horseback and asked residents just six basic questions.

Since then, the census has grown far more elaborate, though the process for conducting it — mailing out paper forms and relying heavily on field workers going door to door — remained essentially the same from 1970 through 2010.

Over time, however, costs have soared while response rates have declined. The average cost, in 2020 dollars, to count one housing unit increased from about $16 in 1970 to about $92 in 2010, a Government Accountability Office analysis found.

“We needed a breakthrough,” said Robert Groves, director of the bureau during the 2010 census. “We couldn’t continue the trend of inflating costs using the same methods.”

The transition to new technologies for 2020, such as issuing smartphones to field workers, represents a “huge jump” in the right direction, Mr. Groves said.

The greater use of data collected by other agencies, such as Medicare and Medicaid, could help identify vacant households, making more costly in-person follow-up visits unnecessary. Software that tracks field workers’ progress and directs them to optimal routes could save time.

Census Bureau files, circa 1949, contained a card for every person in the United States.CreditBettman Archive, via Getty Images Census geographers at the bureau’s headquarters in Suitland, Md., use images captured from satellites and planes to verify addresses in rural communities and compare them with previous maps.CreditU.S. Census Bureau, via Associated Press

For experts, the greater use of technology raises two primary questions: Does it work, and is it secure? The Census Bureau’s efforts to answer those questions have been hampered by inadequate resources.

Security tests of some IT systems that were originally supposed to take up to eight weeks had to be completed in about one week, the G.A.O. found. The bureau conducted its critical 2018 dress rehearsal, planned to take place in three communities, in just one: Providence County, R.I.

Though the bureau said it has fixed the problems identified during this dry run, the G.A.O. expressed concern over the missed opportunity to test new technology in places such as rural West Virginia or tribal land in Washington State — areas that would have been covered under the original plan.

“Our concern is that the bureau may not know what it doesn’t know,” said Robert Goldenkoff, director of the Government Accountability Office’s strategic issues team. “Not every place looks like Providence, Rhode Island.”

In Providence and during other, smaller-scale field tests, census workers encountered technological issues, the G.A.O. reported. A software glitch sent multiple canvassers to the same block. Some workers had trouble finding an internet connection to transmit the information they had collected. Others had trouble recording people’s responses in an application on their smartphones.

These types of small hang-ups, while manageable in one community, could amount to big problems on a national scale, G.A.O. has warned.

And then there is the risk of a cyberattack. The Commerce Department’s Office of Inspector General, which discovered the cloud security problem last year during an audit, said the vulnerability it found was “potentially catastrophic.” If a hacker had gained access to the lost user credentials, the inspector general found, the Census Bureau “would have been powerless to stop an attacker from causing irreparable harm.”

Hackers could also target bureau employees with phishing emails containing links that, when clicked, install malware, for example. In 2016, a cyberattack forced a temporary shutdown of the Australian census’s online response site, prompting the social media hashtag #CensusFail.

The Census Bureau said it has been able to test its IT systems in a variety of settings and that its cybersecurity team “is partnering with federal agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, the federal intelligence community, as well as industry experts to share threat intelligence information.”

“In the case we do face an incident,” the bureau said, “our team is prepared to take action to contain the threat and share information, as soon as possible, if there is any impact on the American public.”

The potential spread online of bogus or misleading information presents another novel risk.

“If you wanted to provoke fears among the population as to how the census data could be used,” said Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Stanford Law School who studies the interplay of technology and government, “the American population is fertile ground right now for conspiracy theories and manipulation.”

Balloons decorated Framingham City Hall during the 2020 Massachusetts Census Kickoff event in Framingham, Mass., in April.CreditSuzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe, via Getty Images

The controversy over the citizenship question could provide fodder for provocateurs seeking to spread falsehoods and confusion. Groups monitoring for this sort of content said they had already seen examples appearing, primarily on far-right websites.

Numerous experts cited a recent post on a neo-Nazi website urging people to apply for a job going door to door for the Census Bureau so they could report suspected noncitizens to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Doing so, however, would be illegal. Census workers are required to swear a lifetime oath not to disclose respondents’ personal information, including to other government agencies, under the penalty of up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

So far, such posts seem to originate within the United States, said Maria Filippelli, a public interest technology census fellow at New America. But she expects eventually to see foreign actors intervene as well.

“There are a lot of people who want to undermine our democracy, very similar to what we saw in the 2016 election,” she said.

The Census Bureau said it is working with big technology companies, including social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, to detect and counter disinformation efforts. One way, the bureau said, is to make sure that accurate information is highlighted at the top of search results, while fake websites and misinformation are pushed to the bottom.

Facebook announced on Sunday that it is expanding its efforts to combat election interference to include bad information about the census or threats of violence toward anyone participating in it.

A Twitter spokesperson said the company has met several times with Census Bureau officials “to discuss the best ways to support a healthy conversation on Twitter regarding the 2020 Census.”

Given the distrust among groups that historically have been undercounted, the bureau’s efforts to build trust through partnerships with businesses and local community leaders will be both more important and more difficult than ever, census experts said.

Convincing the reluctant to respond “will require much more repetition than in the past,” Steve Jost, a former Census Bureau official, said.

Enlisting the aid of businesses to promote participation is proving much more challenging now, said Mr. Vargas, of the organization of Latino officials. In the past, he said, companies agreed to incorporate census-related messages in advertisements and store displays, for example. This cycle, that has changed, he said.

“I have not seen the level of reluctance among business leaders to participate in a census like this one,” Mr. Vargas said. “Business leaders are allergic to issues that are perceived to be controversial, especially if they have any kind of racial controversy mixed in.”

The greatest risk to the census, former officials say, is that the public loses faith in the legitimacy of an independent institution at the core of American democracy — whether because of a crashed website, a partisan fight or a drumbeat of disinformation.

“The price is poor quality data,” Mr. Jost said, “and the price of that lives with us for a decade.”

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America Vastly Overestimates the Size of the LGBT Community According to Study

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With things like the LGBT movement dominating entire months, and so much advocacy and activism being dedicated to the community, you’d think that gay and lesbians exist around every corner. However, according to a new Gallup study, America has it vastly overestimated how large the LGBT community is, and it’s all that advocacy and activism it has to thank for it.

According to James Barrett at the Daily Wire, U.S. adults typically guess that nearly a quarter of the population calls in one of the categories that consist of the LGBT movement. In truth, that number is way, way off:

“U.S. adults estimate that nearly one in four Americans (23.6%) are gay or lesbian. Gallup has previously found that Americans have greatly overestimated the U.S. gay population, recording similar average estimates of 24.6% in 2011 and 23.2% in 2015,” the group reports.

That estimate is “more than five times Gallup’s more encompassing 2017 estimate that 4.5% of Americans are LGBT, based on respondents’ self-identification as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender,” Gallup explains. When the estimates are broken down by demographics, even the most conservative estimates still remain about four times higher than the 4.5% estimated actual number.

The group is actually very small, but according to Gallup, it receives an inordinate amount of attention and creates the illusion that it’s much larger than it actually is:

Overestimations of the nation’s gay population may in part be due to the group’s outsized visibility. An annual report by GLAAD, an LGBT advocacy group, found that representation of LGBT people as television series regulars on broadcast primetime scripted programming reached an all-time high of 8.8% in the 2018-2019 television season, which is nearly twice Gallup’s estimate of the actual population.

Media, politicians, and activist groups dedicate tons of attention and screen time to a group that, in truth, makes up just a small percentage of the population. You see activist groups push hard for acceptance of even the most extreme behaviors and are told that this is the way society is going and we should just accept it. You see people come out in droves to participate in Pride parades.

In reality, society isn’t going in that direction. The vast majority of us don’t subscribe to it. Many are lending their support to it for various reasons. They may truly believe in it, or some just find supporting it a trendy thing to do since it’s shoved in our faces by the mainstream media. An entire month is dedicated to it, and we’re told not supporting it makes us bigots.

To be clear, members of the LGBT community are Americans that deserve the same amount of respect as everyone else, but we’re being consistently told they deserve more to the point of praising them for being gay or lesbian. This creates conflict, and the fight against the social takeover creates a very loud battlefield, further lending to the idea that this is a much larger community than we’re told.

We’re looking at a very large shadow being cast on the wall by a very small rabbit.

The post America Vastly Overestimates the Size of the LGBT Community According to Study appeared first on RedState.

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When It Comes to the Census, the Damage Among Immigrants Is Already Done

LOS ANGELES — Seven days a week in MacArthur Park, a vibrant Latino neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles, Pedro sells mangoes from a cart to passers-by. He has been a regular in the area for 16 years, earning about $800 a month and sending as much as half of that back to his family in Guatemala.

When federal government workers spread out across the country next year to count every United States resident for the census, Pedro, 50, will almost certainly not be included. He and his neighbors are increasingly wary of people they do not recognize, especially those in uniforms.

“We came here to work, just to work, and it is better to keep the door closed,” said Pedro, who did not want to give his full name because he is undocumented.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court stopped the Census Bureau, at least for now, from asking residents whether they are American citizens. The court called the Trump administration’s justification for the question “contrived” but left open the possibility that the question could be added in the future.

Critics have accused the administration of attempting to use the question to discourage immigrant communities from participating in the census. An undercount of these communities, which are often in Democratic constituencies, could tilt political power in Congress and state legislatures toward the Republican Party. An undercount, experts say, would also deeply disrupt federal funding for poverty and health care programs, transportation, school planning and even private sector investments in undercounted areas.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_157018548_65f80eeb-7eeb-4390-8e8d-bf6a4cc78b58-articleLarge When It Comes to the Census, the Damage Among Immigrants Is Already Done Population Immigration and Emigration Hispanic-Americans census

In the MacArthur Park neighborhood, which is about 85 percent Latino and where Spanish is more commonly spoken than English, there was a sense of confusion over the census.CreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

But even though some Democrats may perceive the court’s decision as a victory, the damage, many experts say, has already been done. The fear engendered by the administration’s immigration policies will make the job of census workers difficult in primarily immigrant neighborhoods, regardless of whether or not the citizenship question is added.

[Sign up for our daily newsletter about news from California here.]

In predominantly Latino neighborhoods of Los Angeles this week, many people seemed largely unaware of the political machinations in Washington over the citizenship question, and many had never heard of the census. They were, however, concerned about the impending arrival of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in the neighborhood for planned raids.

In MacArthur Park, which is about 85 percent Latino and where Spanish is more commonly spoken than English, there was a sense of confusion. The very people who are being told by activists to keep their doors closed if I.C.E. agents pay a visit are also being told to open their doors for government census workers, so they can be counted.

[Here’s what you need to know about the debate over adding a citizenship question to the census.]

That presents enormous political and logistical challenges in California, the nation’s most populous state, with a large immigrant population. Political leaders in the state worry that they will miss out on federal dollars apportioned by population. The state could also potentially lose a seat in Congress if there is a significant undercount.

“We have this added challenge, the atmosphere created in D.C. of deep distrust and legitimate fear created in the government, and our undercount could be in the millions,” said Daniel Zingale, a senior strategist for Gov. Gavin Newsom. “The stakes are arguably higher for California than any other state.”

[Read about why the Trump administration is running out of time to print the census.]

Maricela Rodriguez, who works in the California governor’s office on civic engagement issues, said the state was already feeling the effects. “Really, the damage in terms of creating fear around the census has been done,” she said. “Whether the citizenship question is included or not included, there is already a lot of fear instilled in the immigrant community.”

Lesbia Elea with her daughter, Kayla, and nephew, Franki, in the Westlake neighborhood near MacArthur Park in Los Angeles.CreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

The Newsom administration announced this week that it intended to spend up to $187 million to bolster census outreach efforts within the state, several times as much as the state has spent before. “If you don’t participate in the census, Trump wins,” Mr. Newsom said on Thursday.

The nationwide census, which is conducted every 10 years, is more than just a snapshot of the population, said Diana Elliott, a senior researcher at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit research group based in Washington. The data gathered by the census helps determine federal funding for all types of programs, including education and transportation.

Residents like those in the MacArthur Park neighborhood, Ms. Elliott said, have historically been at high risk of being undercounted, because they rent rather than own their homes and because immigrant communities are often wary of the government. The citizenship question would have added an additional hurdle, and would have suppressed participation, especially among undocumented people, she said. And she noted that the fear of being on the government’s radar — even for the census — is already baked in.

“So much depends on the count,” she said. “But trust in government is very important for the Census Bureau and its activities, and that trust has been eroding for decades — but especially in light of the current political climate.”

At a bakery in MacArthur Park on Thursday, Elma Raxjal, who came to Los Angeles from Guatemala 14 years ago, said that she would not feel comfortable disclosing any information to census workers. The risk is too great, she said, recalling a family member who was deported several years ago.

The family has worked hard to assimilate into American life, she said, and her children all have Anglo names: Frank, Ashley and Jesse. But they live in fear of drawing attention to themselves. “When I go to work, sometimes they ask me what will happen to them if I don’t come back,” Ms. Raxjal said.

A flower vendor walked through the Westlake neighborhood.CreditJenna Schoenefeld for The New York Times

Lesbia Elea, who has lived in the United States for nearly 15 years, said that while her own documentation was in order, that was not the case for everyone in her family. Activists in the neighborhood have told her that immigration agents must present a warrant if they want to enter the family’s apartment, which everyone in the household has been instructed to remember.

“That’s the rule, we know that rule,” she said.

Ms. Elea, 28, said she planned to cooperate with the census count, but that some of her family and friends would not.

The federal government is responsible for conducting the census. The workers known as enumerators who go door to door to gather the data are hired directly by the federal government. But states can supplement those efforts with additional money and outreach — in California’s case, to reach the 15 million residents deemed at high risk of going uncounted.

The state is partnering with some community organizations to encourage participation. Arturo Vargas, chief executive of the NALEO Educational Fund, which works with the state and is based in MacArthur Park, said it was a challenge.

“This is the same government that wants to know everything about everyone in your house,” he said.

Ms. Elliott of the Urban Institute added that the federal government has allocated less money for door-knocking this time than it did for the previous census in 2010, and is putting more emphasis on self-reporting on the internet — a change which could yield a lower count, especially in lower-income areas where not everyone has regular internet access. “There are just some people who will never send out a form, and you have to be out engaging them and getting them to participate,” Ms. Elliott said.

But she added that community organizers still have time to persuade perhaps-nervous residents to make sure they are counted.

“There’s still potential for all of this to turn around,” she said. “But it really depends upon communities getting out the count and encouraging people to trust the census bureau, participate in the census. There’s still time for really important community engagement to happen.”

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Musk: Human population to collapse in the next 30 years

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Are we heading for an unavoidable collapse in human population levels on Earth? When a guy smart enough to come up with the Falcon Heavy suggests something, I’m willing to at least listen, if not totally buy in. We’re referring to the latest claim from Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, who got into a bit of a Twitter scrap this weekend over where global population levels are heading. The United Nations is warning that we could have another 1.6 billion people taking up space on the planet in the next thirty years. But Musk is repeating alarms he previously sounded, warning of the opposite. According to this theory, there will be far too few people left in the next fifty years or so. (Business Insider)

Elon Musk is still worried about the human population.

In a tweet on Friday, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO doubled down on a theory he has backed in the past — the human population is headed for implosion.

Responding to a tweet, which projected the global population would grow by roughly 1.6 billion by 2050, Musk said the real problem facing humanity is an “aging and declining world population.”

Musk cited Jørgen Randers, a Norwegian academic who in his 2012 book “2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years” said the human population would start dwindling around 2040.

This isn’t really a debate over “Population Bomb” theories, such as Ed wrote about last year. Those discussions generally center on worries of a scarcity of resources and the resulting drive to forcibly reduce the population via government oversight. (Just ask the Chinese how well that worked out for them.)

What Musk is referring to is a totally different scenario. Rather than forced population reduction, one theory holds that humanity is shutting down baby production all on its own, and if that trend continues, there is going to be a major collapse on the way as smaller and smaller numbers of young, working-age people are unable to support the burgeoning armies of the elderly. After the ensuing die-off, global population levels could be a fraction of what they are now.

Does that theory hold water? Well… if you look at the current trends in Japan you might suspect so. Their average age is rising steadily and their total population is falling because fewer women are having children. If your country doesn’t maintain an average of 2.2 children per woman (or close to that), your native population is going to shrink. The study I linked above claims that the same thing is happening in other western nations already, with the glaring exception being on the continent of Africa. Their fertility continues to climb.

That sort of science is a bit out of my league, though it’s worth keeping an eye on. But allow me to circle back to the Population Bomb question for a moment. The predicted disasters arising from our massively growing human population haven’t happened. But that’s only because our technology has kept up with the challenges. I believe it’s already been well established that there are currently far, far more people on the planet than we could ever feed if we suddenly lost most of our technological advantages.

And that’s not impossible. We’d be talking about something like massive EMP exchanges between the superpowers, a terror attack knocking out the American power grid for years, or just a huge solar flare coming our way at the worst possible angle. If (or when) the lights go out around most of the world and we lose the ability to not only grow but transport massive amounts of food, people will begin starving in a matter of weeks. And starving people reach the desperation stage rapidly.

It would turn into Mad Max territory out there pretty quickly. And if that happens, you will indeed see a population collapse.

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Baltimore’s population continues to drop

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The decennial census doesn’t take place until next year, but there are annual population surveys being conducted every year around the country. The news from 2018 wasn’t particularly good for Baltimore, Maryland, however. Once again, rather than demonstrating any sort of growth, Charm City actually decreased in population and the losses were felt across virtually all demographic and economic lines. This is particularly distressing when you consider that Baltimore was once the nation’s sixth largest city. (NY Post)

New annual estimates from the US Census Bureau show that Baltimore is continuing to shed inhabitants, bringing the overall population of Maryland’s biggest city down to what it was over 100 years ago.

The latest Census data shows that Baltimore lost more than 7,300 citizens during the 12 months that ended July 1. That’s a loss of 1.2% of the city’s population. It’s the fourth straight year of population decline for Baltimore while rival counties are attracting newcomers…

Census data released Thursday suggests the city’s population is now just over 600,000 people. The population of the metropolis nicknamed “Charm City” stood at roughly 730,000 in 1920.

Raise your hand if you’re surprised by this. Nobody? Okay.

Plenty of states and cities experience temporary fluctuations in population for a variety of reasons. The only way to really gauge what’s going on is to look at the bigger picture over an extended period of time. And what we’re seeing in Baltimore is far from a statistical glitch. The last time the city’s population was this low was probably in the 19th century since they were already up to 720,000 by the 1920 census. In the 1950s the population was nearly a million.

The reasons for the slow decline from there varied from generation to generation. The closure of Bethlehem Steel and the collapse of business in the shipyards set the tone for much of the second half of the twentieth century, but since then issues of economic opportunity and racial divisiveness have become endemic. And the past few years, particularly since the Freddie Gray riots, have seen those problems becoming acute.

At the same time, Baltimore’s elected officials haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory in the 21st century. They haven’t had a mayor since Martin O’Malley who wasn’t mired in a cloud of scandal. Shelia Dixon resigned after being convicted on charges of fraud. Her successor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake threw in the towel after her mishandling of the riots. And now, Catherine Pugh is hanging on by her fingernails because of the BookGate scandal. It’s rather hard to have confidence in your city and stick around with leadership like that.

Can anything turn Baltimore around? I’m just enough of a starry-eyed optimist to say that it’s possible, but they will need to make big changes. Any sort of urban revitalization will require tearing down vast tracks of vacant buildings that provide a breeding ground for the drug trade and gang violence. The streets will have to be made safe again and something must be done about the staggering murder rate. If you can’t provide viable real estate for investors and show that it’s actually safe to live and work there, nobody is going to come to rebuild the area.

Sadly, none of that will happen if you keep electing the same old crew of corrupt or incompetent people. I’m not saying they need to start electing Republicans (which would be asking a lot in Baltimore) but you at least have to find some honest and competent Democrats. If you can’t manage that much, just abandon ship and let Baltimore sink back into the harbor.

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Trump Says the U.S. Is ‘Full.’ Much of the Nation Has the Opposite Problem.

President Trump has adopted a blunt new message in recent days for migrants seeking refuge in the United States: “Our country is full.”

To the degree the president is addressing something broader than the recent strains on the asylum-seeking process, the line suggests the nation can’t accommodate higher immigration levels because it is already bursting at the seams. But it runs counter to the consensus among demographers and economists.

They see ample evidence of a country that is not remotely “full” — but one where an aging population and declining birthrates among the native-born population are creating underpopulated cities and towns, vacant housing and troubled public finances.

Local officials in many of those places view a shrinking population and work force as an existential problem with few obvious solutions.

“I believe our biggest threat is our declining labor force,” said Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, a Republican, in his annual budget address this year. “It’s the root of every problem we face.

“This makes it incredibly difficult for businesses to recruit new employees and expand, harder for communities to grow and leaves fewer of us to cover the cost of state government.”

Or if you look at a city like Detroit, “many of the city’s problems would become less difficult if its population would start growing,” said Edward Glaeser, a Harvard economist. “All sorts of things like the hangover pension liability become much more solvable if you’re actually looking at new people coming in.”

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A road less traveled in Rutland, Vt., last spring. Vermont’s governor has described the state’s shrinking labor force as “at the root of every problem we face.” CreditCaleb Kenna for The New York Times

This consensus is visible in official government projections. The Congressional Budget Office foresees the American labor force rising by only 0.5 percent a year over the coming decade, about one-third as fast as from 1950 to 2007. That is a crucial reason that economic growth is forecast to remain well below its late 20th-century levels.

And that, in turn, is reflected in the national fiscal outlook. There are now 2.8 workers for every recipient of Social Security benefits, a rate on track to fall to 2.2 by 2035, according to the program’s trustees. Many state pension plans face even greater demography-induced strains.

In smaller cities and rural areas, demographic decline is a fundamental fact of life. A recent study by the Economic Innovation Group found that 80 percent of American counties, with a combined population of 149 million, saw a decline in their number of prime working-age adults from 2007 to 2017.

Population growth in the United States has now hit its lowest level since 1937, partly because of a record-low fertility rate — the number of children born per woman. The United States increasingly has population growth rates similar to slow-growing Japan and Western Europe, with immigration partly offsetting that shift.

The Trump administration has portrayed the surge of asylum seekers at the southern border as a crisis, and applied aggressive tactics to deport undocumented immigrants already in the United States. But it has also announced plans to issue up to 30,000 additional H-2B visas for temporary workers.

“That immigrants keep showing up here is a testament to our freedom and the economic opportunity here,” said Matthew Kahn, an economist at the University of Southern California. If immigrants weren’t trying to come — if they believed the United States to be full — that would be a problem, Mr. Kahn said.

A particular fear, said John Lettieri, president of the Economic Innovation Group, is that declining population, falling home prices and weak public finances will create a vicious cycle that the places losing population could find hard to escape.

He proposes a program of “heartland visas,” in which skilled immigrants could obtain work visas to the United States on the condition they live in one of the counties facing demographic decline — with troubled counties themselves deciding whether to participate.

Although some of the areas with declining demographics are hostile to immigration, others, cities as varied as Baltimore, Indianapolis and Fargo, N.D., have embraced the strategy of encouraging it.

“One of the key solutions is to welcome immigrants into these communities,” said Brooks Rainwater, director of the National League of Cities’ Center for City Solutions.

Many parts of the country that are growing in population and that are more economically dynamic have depended on the arrival of immigrants for that success.

Sun Belt metros like Dallas and Phoenix have been built on the logic of rapid expansion — of quickly built homes, of poached employers, of new highways paved to ever-newer subdivisions. Their economic development strategy is growth. Their chief input is people — the more, the better.

“Growth cities need immigrants to continue their growth,” said Joel Kotkin, executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism, which promotes policies to help cities grow. “The older historically declining cities need immigrants to reinvigorate their economies. And the expensive cities need them because, frankly, white people, African-Americans and middle-class people are leaving for more affordable areas.”

As many industrial cities have lost population since the mid-20th century, Americans have built whole new metropolises on land that was virtually empty then. The Las Vegas metropolitan area, with more than two million people today, had barely 50,000 in 1950.

Still, only about 3 percent of the country’s land is urbanized.

America’s metropolitan areas remain among the least dense in the world, said Sonia Hirt, a professor of landscape architecture and planning at the University of Georgia. Nationwide, the United States has less than one-third of the population density of the European Union, and a quarter of the density of China.

“Factually speaking, the country is not actually full — that’s impossible,” Ms. Hirt said. “The real question is, if you continue on the current path of immigration, does this bring more benefits than it brings costs?”

Economists, too, argue that countries, or even cities, can’t really fill up. Rather, communities choose not to make the political choices necessary to accommodate more people. At the local level, that means neighbors may be unwilling to allow taller buildings or to invest in more schools or improved infrastructure. At the national level, it means that politicians may be unwilling to take up immigration reform, or to address workers who fear unemployment. The president’s comments echo such local fights.

“We’re full” has often been a motto for people to keep out poorer renters, minority households or apartment buildings, among both conservatives and liberals. The claim can be a way of disguising exclusion as practicality. It’s not that we’re unwelcoming; it’s just that we’re full.

When it comes to the economy, at least, the country looks more like one that is too empty than too full.

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