Things That Matter

There Might Not Be A Citizenship Question On The 2020 Census But DHS Will Give The Census Citizenship Info

After President Donald Trump’s efforts to have a citizenship question on the 2020 census was stopped by the Supreme Court last June, he is now looking to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for help. According to a report from CNN, DHS will be providing citizenship information with the U.S. Census Bureau through administrative records collected in previous years. The share data will be used to make an estimate of the number of citizens and non-citizens in the U.S., including the number of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

The information that is being shared with the Census bureau includes “a person’s alien identification number, country of birth and date of naturalization or naturalization application,” the AP reports. Other data will come from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Customs and Border Protection that will be linked to other shared demographic data. The DHS-Census agreement reads that the citizen information will be used for no longer than two years and then promptly destroyed. 

There is much significance going into the once-a-decade headcount that will determine how $1.5 trillion in federal spending is allocated across the country, as well as how many congressional seats each state gets. 

While the move to share citizenship data between agencies may raise some eyebrows, the Trump administration is defending the move in regards to voting protections. But that’s not how everyone sees it. 

Andrea Senteno, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), one of the civil rights groups challenging President Trump’s order in federal court in Maryland, told the AP that the collected data may be wrong or outdated. “The information out there over whether someone is a non-citizen or what type of immigrant status they may be is going to have a lot of holes in it,” Senteno told the AP

This is a potential issue that DHS acknowledges and said in its agreement document that “linking records between datasets is not likely to be 100% accurate.” There are fears that if this data is compiled to produce statistics, people won’t have the ability to correct mistakes as an individual’s citizenship status can change often over a period of time. 

The data that is being compiled from administrative records is also facing legal challenges. According to CNN, a lawsuit, which the government is asking to be dismissed, is being presented that accuses Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross of being “motivated by a racially discriminatory scheme to reduce Latino political representation and increase the overrepresentation of non-Latino Whites, thereby advantaging White voters at Latino voters’ expense.” 

Despite President Trump not getting his citizen question on the 2020 Census, Latino leaders told Congress on Thursday that there are still worries from communities about it. 

President Trump’s efforts to get a citizenship question on the 2020 Census may have been stopped but the fears and anxiety of it still showing up are well alive in many Latino communities across the U.S. At a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Thursday, civil leaders voiced their concerns that census counts may be inaccurate. 

Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, blames that on the “failed debacle” of Trump’s proposed citizenship question. He says that while the question was ultimately blocked, there is still fear in the Latino community that information about their legal status will still show up that may add to inaccurate tallies.

“They believe there will be a citizenship question on the form despite its absence and many fear how the data will be used,” Vargas said at the hearing focused on reaching hard-to-count communities in the 2020 census. “This is exacerbated by a hostile environment toward immigrants propagated by this administration.”

Vargas points to the prior census count in 2010 that he says “undercounted 1.5 percent of the Latino population, including some 400,000 children under 5 years old.” That census count made the determination that the US Latino population was  50.5 million. Today, that number is estimated to be close to 60 million people. 

“The 2020 Census is likely to be the largest and most difficult enumeration ever,” said Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights, told the AP. “There are no do-overs. We need to get it right the first time.”

The march to the 2020 Census will begin in rural and tribal communities in northern Alaska in no less than two weeks. The rest of the US can start participating by mid-March.

READ: A San Francisco Mural Is Honoring An Undocumented Guatemalan Immigrant Who Was Unarmed And Killed By Police

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

Entertainment

Report Shows That Immigration Narratives On TV Are Latinx-Focused And Over-Emphasize Crime

The media advocacy group Define American recently released a study that focused on the way immigrant characters are depicted on television. The second-annual study is entitled “Change the Narrative, Change the World”.

Although the study reports progress in some areas of onscreen representation, there is still a long way to go.

For example, the study reported that half of the immigrant characters depicted on television are Latino, which is consistent with reality. What is not consistent with reality, however, is how crime-related storylines are still an overrepresented theme in these storylines.

The study shows that on television 22% of immigrant characters have crime storylines show up as part of their narratives. These types of storylines further pedal the false narrative that immigrants are criminals, when in reality, they’re just everyday people who are trying to lives their best lives. Ironically, this statistic is an improvement on the previous year’s statistics in which crime themes made up 34% of immigrants’ stories on TV.

These numbers are further proof that the media feels stories of Latino immigration have to be about sadness and hardship in order to be worth watching.

According to Define American’s website, their organization believes that “powerful storytelling is the catalyst that can reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.”

They believe that changing the narratives depicted in entertainment media can “reshape our country’s immigration narrative and generate significant cultural change.” 

“We wanted to determine if seeing the specific immigration storylines influenced [viewers’] attitudes, behavior, or knowledge in the real world,” said Sarah Lowe, the associate director of research and impact at Define American to Variety. “And we were reassured and inspired to see the impact it had.” 

Define American’s founder, Jose Antonio Vargas, is relatively optimistic about the study’s outcomes, saying that the report has “some promising findings” and the numbers “provide [him] with hope”. He added that there are still “many areas in which immigrant representation can improve”.

via Getty Images

Namely, Vargas was disappointed in television’s failure to take an intersectional approach to immigration in regards to undocumented Black immigrants. 

“Black undocumented immigrants are detained and deported at higher rates than other ethnic groups,” Vargas told Variety. “But their stories are largely left off-screen and left out of the larger narrative around immigration.” 

“Change the Narrative, Change the World” also showed that Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants are also under-represented on television compared with reality. Also worth noting, male immigrants were over-represented on television compared to reality, while immigrants with disabilities were also under-represented.

The study also showed that when viewers are exposed to TV storylines that humanize immigrants, they’re more likely to take action on immigration issues themselves. 

The effect that fictional entertainment narratives have on viewers further proves that representation does, indeed, matter. What we watch as entertainment changes the way we think about other people’s lived experiences. And that, in turn, can change the world.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Things That Matter

With Immigration Fees Set To Increase, Advocacy Groups Are Hosting “Citizenship Weeks” To Help People Get Their Documents In On Time

Damen Wood / Getty Images

Becoming a U.S. resident or citizen has never been an easy process. The country’s immigration system is a convoluted mess that sharply leans in favor of high-wealth individuals and under the Trump administration that is becoming more apparent than ever.

But 2020 has been an especially challenging year for immigrants seeking to complete their citizenship process.

Although it’s common for interest in naturalization to spike in the months leading up to presidential elections, the Coronavirus pandemic forced the citizenship process to a grinding halt in March. The outbreak shut offices of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) all across the country. And although many of these offices reopened in July, there is a widening backlog of applications.

Meanwhile, on October 2, looming fee increases could leave applications and citizenship out of reach for tens of thousands of immigrants, as the process becomes significantly more costly.

Many migrant advocacy groups are hosting events meant to help immigrants complete their applications before prices are set to rise.

In South Florida, the Office of New Americans (ONA) — a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade County and non-profit legal service providers — launched its second Miami Citizenship Week on Sept. 11. This 10-day event is designed to help immigrants with free legal support so participants can beat the October 2 deadline.

In addition, the event will host a mix of celebrations meant to highlight the social and economic contributions of South Florida’s large immigrant communities.

“I think in Miami we talk about how we are diverse and how we are adjacent to Latin America, but we never take a moment to celebrate immigrants and the amazing work that they do whether it’s the nurses in our hospitals, the drivers that drive our buses, small business owners,” said Krystina François, ONA’s executive director. “We need to reclaim the narrative around immigrants and around our communities because it’s what makes us great.”

However, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions, the events will all be hosted online.

Much like any other event, Covid-19 has greatly impacted this year’s “Citizenship Week.” Therefore, the event will be hosted virtually. That includes the Mega Citizenship Clinic, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16-20. At the event, pro-bono lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Americans for Immigrant Justice and other groups will connect with attendees one-on-one on Zoom and walk them through the process of filling out the 20-page citizenship application form. 

The clinic is open to immigrants eligible to become naturalized citizens, meaning permanent residents who have had a green card for at least five years.

Cities like Dallas are also getting in on similar events, meant to welcome new residents and citizens into the city.

Dallas’ Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs is hosting a series of virtual events from Sept. 12 to Sept. 20 in honor of Welcoming Week. The virtual events aim to promote Dallas’ diverse communities and to unite all residents, including immigrants and refugees.

According to the City of Dallas, this year’s theme is Creating Home Together, and it emphasizes the importance of coming together as a community to build a more inclusive city for everyone.

Participants will be able to learn about the voting process and what will be on the next ballot during the “Vontando Por Mi Familia: Enterate para que vas a votar” event. The event, hosted in partnership with Mi Familia, will be presented in Spanish.

A Council Member, Jaime Resendez, will host a virtual program on Tuesday at 11 a.m. that celebrates Latinx art and culture. The event will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Mayor Eric Johnson will read the Welcoming Week Proclamation, and the event will feature art exhibitions and performances showcasing the talents of performers and artists across Dallas.

Attendees will also have a chance to learn more about the availability of DACA and a citizenship workshop will take place where articipants will learn how to complete their N-400 application for citizenship. Volunteer immigration attorneys and accredited representatives from the Department of Justice will be there for assistance.

The events come as fees for several immigration proceedings are set to rise by dramatic amounts come October 1.

Starting on October 2, the financial barrier will grow even taller for many immigrants as fees are set to increase. The fee to apply for U.S. citizenship will increase from $640 to $1,160 if filed online, or $ 1,170 in paper filing, a more than 80% increase in cost. 

“In the middle of an economic downturn, an increase of $520 is a really big amount,” François told the Miami-Herald.

Aside from the fee increase, many non-citizen immigrants never truly felt the need to become citizens. That was until the Coronavirus pandemic hit and had many questioning their status in the country.

“There are people who up until this COVID crisis, their status as a permanent resident didn’t impact their day-to-day life … but then the pandemic has given them another reason of why it’s important to take that extra step and become a citizen, because of the additional rights and protections that are afforded to you, but also to just have a sense of security and stability in a crisis.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com