After Latinos were undercounted in the 2020 Census by around 2%, the bureau in charge of counting people in the U.S. has a new Latino director
Robert Santos was sworn last Wednesday as the head of the nation’s largest statistical agency, becoming the first Latino director of the U.S. Census Bureau.
The former chief methodologist and vice president at the Urban Institute became the bureau’s 26th director.
The Senate in November approved Santos, a third-generation Mexican American statistician from San Antonio, Texas, for the job overseeing a bureau that conducts the once-a-decade census, often described as the nation’s largest civilian mobilization, as well as surveys that create the data infrastructure of the nation.
“I’ve spent the majority of my career with organizations dedicated to delivering credible and informative statistical analysis for the public good. Census Bureau data have been essential to that work,” Santos says in a news release. “It is such an immense privilege to join the Census Bureau and its very talented team.”
In his new job, Santos will be responsible for leading the agency as it lays the groundwork for executing the next census in 2030, as well as shepherding the last releases of data gathered during the 2020 census and supervising other bureau programs.
“Mr. Santos is a tremendous leader and I have full confidence that he will lead the Census Bureau with integrity in the years ahead,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in a statement.
The Commerce Department oversees the Census Bureau.
Santos is the first Hispanic to be confirmed as Census Bureau director on a permanent basis. James Holmes, who is African American, was named acting director on a temporary basis in 1998 after the resignation of Martha Riche.
The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund said in a statement that Santos must now rebuild trust in the bureau following a 2020 census challenged by the pandemic, natural disasters, delays and attempts at political interference by the Trump administration.
“Today, we celebrate a historic day for our community and country with Director Santos now officially serving as the first Latino to head the Census Bureau“.
“With the Bureau emerging from its most tumultuous decennial census and with growing evidence of a potential undercount of Latinos and other population groups, Director Santos must effectively navigate the many challenges that face the agency’s work.“
“Additionally, the Bureau must proactively assess the impact of an undercount of Latinos on the full range of activities for which Census 2020 data are used, including civil rights enforcement and federal funding“.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Census Bureau under Director Santos’ leadership as it works to provide complete and accurate data on the Latino community and all of our nation’s population.”