How Trump’s Infamous Citizenship Question Negatively Affects Latino Kids

Census 2020 Count
America Barrera, left, and Jimena Flores, youth volunteers with CHIRLA, encourage a family to pledge that they will participate in the 2020 census.(Liz Moughon / Los Angeles Times)

The Trump’s infamous citizenship question may be out of the census but because of the fear among undocumented parents, Latino kids may be under-counted. According to the United States Census Bureau, they are aware that there is a “long-standing under-count of young children in decennial censuses and in Census Bureau surveys.” The entity reported that the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey, and the Survey of Income and Program Participation also present inconsistencies in their surveys. But how does this affect the kids? 

As stated by Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution, every 10 years data is collected in order to determine how many seats in Congress each state gets, how many residents have each state and how the government will distribute the federal funds to local communities. If the results of the survey aren’t accurate, it means that because of the connection between census counts and federal funding, some racial and ethnic groups, in this case Latinx kid, could be potentially affected by a lack of daycare programs, healthcare, food stamps, foster care, special education and schools, among other necessities. 

The Los Angeles Times reported that despite activists nationwide are campaigning to guarantee immigrants that is safe to take part in the tally, Jeanette Silva, a 40-year-old pastor that lives a few miles from the banks of the Rio Grande, is still considering if she wants her 4-year-old, Deborah to be part of the 2020 Census. “My little girl will have more support,” said Silva. “But there is always an uneasiness, a fear — especially right now — of federal officials.” 

The Census Bureau demographic analysis revealed that in 2010 a 4.6 percent net (roughly 2 million) of children under the age of five were under-count, a 40% of those accounted were Latino children; Therefore, to understand this problem and reduce it in the 2020 Census, the government entity is looking at all the data.

The seriousness of the matter also depends on the state. Demographer William O’Hare says Webb County, Texas, specifically in Laredo — were large populations of undocumented immigrants lives — ranked the worst nationwide. Texas authorities are predicting the worst-case scenario and estimate that they will receive about $1,578 less per year in federal funding for each under-counted person. “When young children are not counted properly,” Cassie Davis, a research analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities said to Los Angeles Times, “it affects them for their whole childhood.”

Webb County residents worries that the information collected could be used to find and deport people. “To most people the Census Bureau is not any different from ICE,” said Deborah Griffin, a retired Census Bureau researcher. 

Even though the Census Bureau says “is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential by ensuring that your private information is never published and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court” the government of President Trump might be one of the other reasons why Hispanics are conflicted with the upcoming census and why more people are expected to be undercount. The constant headlines about raids and Trump’s comments against the Latino community are making difficult to expect a favorable outcome. 

“Only 60 percent of respondents with young children said they were extremely or very likely to respond to the 2020 Census compared with 68 percent of respondents without a young child in the household,” informed the Census Bureau through the summary of results from the 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Study (CBAMS) Survey. “Households with young children are less familiar with the census and have lower levels of knowledge about the census and its uses. While all households share some misconceptions about the census, households with young children are, on average, younger and have less experience with a previous census. They may need clear education about what is true and what is not true about the census, its process, and its uses,” they added

“We need to educate adults because children can’t make themselves count,” said Arturo Vargas, a NALEO Educational Fund chief executive officer.

Arturo Garcia, director of the Laredo Community Development Department, told the Los Angeles Times, that he will make sure that nobody in Webb County goes uncounted. “One parent might be undocumented and the other a U.S. citizen…. Well, their kids are American citizens who need to be counted,” Garcia said. “But it’s difficult because on one hand people have a genuine fear of the federal government, but on the other we’re asking them to trust the federal government.”

Like Garcia, many Latinx parents understand the importance of the census and despite fears are looking forward to have their children counted. “I may never count on paper, but they will,” said Ilse Mendez, 32, a Mexican immigrant who has been living in the United States for 30 years and is currently protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an an Obama-era policy that offers temporary protection to stay and work in the country. “They are just as American as any child,” she said to the Los Angeles Times.

Texas is the state with the second-largest Latino population in the country after New Mexico, but in 2010 loss $119 million in funding for the discrepancies in the tally. California, the third-largest Hispanic populated state won’t take any risks and have set aside more than $150 million in budget funds to ensure an effective enumeration of its population. 

The 2020 United States Census is now estimated to cost approximately $15.6 billion to the government and the country’s population is projected to be 333,546,000. The tally will officially start on April 1. As a novelty will offer options to respond online or by phone, in addition to the option to respond on a paper form. Remember that the census is just to engage, educate, and ultimately count an increasingly diverse and growing population. Our kids matter and they should be included for the sake of their future and well-being. 

If you still have doubts, visit here 2020census.gov to learn more about how to respond, why it matters, how your data will be protected, and most importantly how to avoid scams and frauds.