Jan. 18 (UPI) — The head of the U.S. Census announced his resignation Monday, almost a year before he was scheduled to retire, amid a showdown over the Trump administration’s orders about the counting of undocumented U.S. residents.
In a resignation letter on his agency blog, Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham praised U.S. Census employees who “made great sacrifices to continue our work” during the global pandemic.
Dillingham said he would finish his term Jan. 20, the day President-elect Biden is sworn into office. He was not scheduled to leave until the end of the year.
Democrats called for Dillingham’s ouster after a whistleblower reported last week that Dillingham was trying to pressure career census employees rush out a report on undocumented immigrants in the United States and was offering financial incentives to get the job done quickly.
The U.S. Census is already behind schedule on release of its official count of residents in the United States.
The count every 10 years is used to apportion the number of U.S. congressional seats per state, as well as to determine federal aid for schools, housing and other federal services.
Last summer, the Donald Trump administration issued Executive Order 13880, which demanded that the census not count residents who were not U.S. citizens. The move was seen as a way to damage congressional representation in states with large cities, which Trump has criticized as Democratic strongholds.
In December, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the executive order, dismissing a lawsuit brought by 23 state’s attorneys to halt the order.
Trump also pressured the Census administration workers to stop census data collection early, which the high court also upheld.
Dillingham’s early departure from the bureau means he is leaving before incoming President-elect Biden has a chance to fire him.