Latinos’ Fear of the 2020 Census Persists

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On April 1st of this year, American households will be invited to participate in the 2020 Census, the 24th national count in the nation’s history, a protocol that ensures the distribution of government funds and measures and describes demographics.

This same Census is, however, a cause for concern for the Hispanic community in the United States.

Since the Census Bureau announced in March 2018 the new questions to be incorporated into the counting process, including a citizenship question, immigrants in the country have felt a direct threat to their sense of belonging and their security in the country.

While the question of citizens’ immigration status existed in the census until 1950 — since then only the respondents’ place of birth was asked — the Trump Administration argued that it would “make the count more accurate.”

Almost immediately, three simultaneous and separate federal lawsuits challenged the government’s decision in the district courts of New York, Maryland, and California, claiming that the strategy “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.”

Once in the Supreme Court, the question was considered “moot” because the census forms were already in print. The Administration, however, insisted that it would find a way to incorporate the question, feeding the fears of the Latino community.

Last Monday, one of the nation’s largest Hispanic rights organizations, the NALEO Education Fund, affirmed  “the U.S. Census Bureau needs to explicitly communicate there will be no citizenship question ahead of the 2020 count or risk undercounting minority groups,” according to the New York Times.

“The bureau cannot leave it upon us — the nonprofit sector — to clean up the mess created by the administration,” said NALEO CEO Arturo Vargas. “The Census Bureau needs to stand up at this point and head this challenge straight on.”

Based on information collected in an investigation by the organization, Vargas insisted on the effects of the government’s strategy, including “the barriers to participation.”

Along with the polling firm Latino Decisions, NALEO found “people were just as worried as when the administration first proposed a citizenship question a few years ago.”

“In fact, the data released Monday found over half of U.S. citizen Latinos and about four-in-ten Latino non-citizens still thought there would be a citizenship question in their 2020 questionnaire”, said NBC Latino.

“Around 73 percent of undocumented immigrant Latinos who were surveyed worried that immigration enforcement agencies would use their census information against them or their families. Less than three in 10 non-citizens said they would be comfortable providing personal information such as their date of birth, for example,” the media added.

Lack of accurate information and confusion in answering the questionnaire could result in a major mismatch between the needs of the states and the allocation of federal resources, affect the seats in the House of Representatives, and result in a more entrenched displacement of minorities in the country.