NEW YORK CITY — New America Media brought together experts who are concerned about the US Census bureau’s ability to pull off a successful 2020 census – one that is fair and would accurately count all communities equally regardless of race, economic or legal status.
“People of color are missed at disproportionately high rates — Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, American Indians while non-Hispanic whites were actually over-counted in the 2010 census,” said Teri Ann Lowenthall, former director of House Census and Population Subcommittee.
Every 10 years, the full count of all people living in the United States shapes the way legislative districts are drawn, how funds are collected and how political representation is distributed.
It is vital to those whose work relies on accurate demographic data.
New York Immigration Coalition’s Steve Choi says, Census is more than just counting people, it equates to political power.
“Because of the results of the last census, because New York’s population was not counted the level it was before, new york state lost 3 congressional seats, you don’t think those 3 congressional seats would come in handy,” he said. I guarantee you they certainly would…”
According to NAM, the US census has been working hard for a modern, cost-effective and accurate census.
But in 2012, Congress capped the census budget for 2020 at roughly $13 billion. The commerce department estimates a $15.6 billion budget.
“It’s the basis for a fair and wise allocation of more than $600 billion a year in federal programs, federal aid to states, localities, some direct payments to individuals; billions more in state initiatives down to the local level,” said Lowenthall.
But their biggest fear is fear itself, anti-immigrant political rhetoric and government activities such as aggressive deportation including those without criminal backgrounds have created a climate of fear – a fear that their census information could be used against them, especially the undocumented.
“None of those can ever be used against you in any setting, but we understand that people are fearful, because this administration has not necessarily shown itself to abide by laws.”
While the 2020 census is touted to be the first technologically advanced census ever – but without enough funds for robust cybersecurity.
But first, the leadership vacuum needs to be filled.
“Urge this administration to, this president to nominate a qualified, experienced, non-partisan census director as quickly as possible.”
This group is also advocating to boost the number of census takers who can effectively communicate with the immigrant community and count those who are in the shadows without threatening to their immigration status.