By Natalie Rogers
In a bipartisan vote (58-35), Robert “Rob” Santos has become the United States’ Director of the Census Bureau after being nominated by President Joe Biden. This title makes Santos the first Latinx person and the second person of color to ever hold the position. Though his confirmation occurred in November of last year, Santos was officially sworn into office on January 1 of this year to begin his term.
One of the leading statisticians in the country, Santos has over forty years of experience and has held several high-ranking positions including the president of the American Statistical Association, the vice president and chief methodologist at the Urban Institute and a board counselor for the National Center for Health Statistics. Though knowledgeable across the board in the world of statistics, Santos holds the most expertise in survey design with specialty areas in disadvantaged populations and undocumented immigrants, two of the most heavily affected groups in the U.S. Census.
Santos’ confirmation not only brings an abundance of expertise to the Census Bureau but is believed to bring a nonpartisan, equality-focused lens to the U.S. Census, considered especially important after the complications of the 2020 Census and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Although this is a political appointment, I am no politician,” Santos said during his initial confirmation hearing, “I’m a scientist, executive-level manager, a researcher and a longtime supporter of the Census Bureau.”
Several organizations and individuals alike have expressed their approval for Santos’ appointment including the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights and Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer. The National Leadership Conference even penned a letter of their approval to the Senate which was signed by additional civil rights advocacy groups such as the National Urban League, the National Disability Rights Network, Fair Count and the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
“By confirming Robert Santos as director of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Senate will ensure the agency has the leader it needs at a pivotal time to rebuild trust in the census — a cornerstone of our democracy,” The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights stated in a press release, “Santos is committed to ensuring the accuracy and usefulness of census, demographic and economic data and the integrity and scientific independence of the bureau.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer additionally gave his outspoken support prior to Santos’ confirmation stating, “He is exactly the kind of person our country needs overseeing the census — impartial, highly experienced, someone from outside politics.”