Every 10 years, our country undertakes the critical task of counting the number of people who reside in these United States of America.
This process is mandated by the US Constitution to ensure that critical decisions about political representation and equitable distribution of federal funds to states are made using concrete data. In 2020, this decennial count will determine how the 435 seats in the House of representatives will be distributed, along with roughly $600 billion in federal funds. For California, a state with an estimated 15 million Latino residents (39% of the population), getting an accurate count of Latino residents is critical!
According to a 2018 report conducted by the Latino Community Foundation and NALEO Education Fund, “despite an undercount of 113,000 Latino children under the age of five in the 2010 Census, California receives more than $77 billion annually in federal funds for crucial education, health, social, infrastructure and emergency services and programs.” We cannot afford to continue undercounting our Latino families if we are to get our fair share of these allocated federal resources. But, we are facing some considerable barriers to getting an accurate count in 2020. CA has some of the highest numbers of Hard-To-Count (HTC) tracks in the country which include immigrants, Latinos, other minority groups, residents with low English proficiency, renters, etc., and the federal government has considerably reduced the budget for the Census Bureau to carry out outreach and education services while also demanding that every member of the Census staff be a US citizen. This seriously limits the ability of the bureau to hire a diverse workforce with the appropriate skills to work on effectively counting the people living in these HTC tracks. Additionally, the federal government is also looking to add a question to the Census Form asking for a person’s citizenship status. If included in the final form, this question will certainly discourage many marginalized immigrant families from participating in the census for fear of repercussions.
So what do we do as a community? We activate ourselves gente! We cannot stay on the sidelines hoping that things change, we must motivate ourselves and others, to ensure that we get a proper count in 2020. Make sure that you, your family members and your friends are all counted, and volunteer your time and money to supporting a local nonprofit working in those HTC tracks. We simply cannot afford to remain quiet and to let critical opportunities pass us by. Help spread the word of what’s at stake and let’s ensure that our democracy remains vibrant and accurately reflects who we are as nation. Adelante, siempre!