The 2020 census is looming. To make sure the census is accurate, accessible and impartial should be the government’s top priority.
The bedrock mission of the census is an accurate and trustworthy head “count of every person living” in the U.S., whether they are citizens or not.
The census will dictate the distribution of how more than $675 billion in public funds, grants and subsidies are allocated and spent; the number of seats allotted for each state in the U.S. House of Representatives; and how congressional and legislative districts are drawn.
Currently, the census does not ask about legal status. Last month, the DOJ requested that the 2020 census ask a question about “citizenship and immigration status.”
Given the aggressive enforcement of immigration policies from the current administration, this could depress results and won’t give us an accurate count of every person living in the U.S.
Hispanic leaders, whose support is crucial to an accurate count, are not convinced they can stand up with confidence and tell their constituents that filling out the census form is safe and confidential and will not expose them or a loved one to arrest or deportation.
Under-counting communities with large immigrant populations could mean weakened political representation, and the loss of millions of dollars in public funds in areas like health, education and infrastructure.
The census count only happens once every 10 years. We have to get this one done right.