July 30, 2018

Take action to support an accurate 2020 U.S. Census count

The 2020 U.S. Census is coming, and by now you may have heard that it's slated to include a question about U.S. citizenship status. That question has implications for the accuracy of the count, and the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of the count has implications for all of us.

Indeed, census data have a tremendous effect on distribution of resources. In 2015, more than $10 billion of federal funding was allocated to Oregon based on census data. Census data are also used to determine sites of schools and other infrastructure; businesses regularly use the data when deciding where to locate and invest. The shape of our voting districts and allocation of representative seats in government draw upon census data. Perhaps your organization refers to census data, too. Meyer does.

Data collected in 2020 will have far-reaching impact, so anything that gets in the way of a full and accurate count is concerning. It is widely believed that asking about citizenship status will suppress U.S. Census participation. Immigrant communities, who already experience real consequences of harsh public discourse and policy, are very likely to be undercounted as mistrust of the government keeps many folks from answering Census questions, regardless of their own citizenship status. We're hearing this directly from community leaders we've spoken to.

Oregon's attorney general has joined a lawsuit with 17 other states seeking to bar inclusion of the question. And you can take action, too.

The Commerce Department, which oversees the U.S. Census Bureau, is accepting public comments about the 2020 survey. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NALEO Educational Fund and Asian Americans Advancing Justice are working collaboratively to encourage nonprofits and the public to submit comments before the August 7 deadline. They've created a simple portal at CensusCounts.org to make the process as easy as possible. I used it to submit comments myself in just a few minutes.

–– Erin