Things That Matter

There Is No Citizenship Question In The Census 2020 But People Are Still Cautious About Answering The Survey

April 1 is officially Census Day. That means between April and the end of July you can expect someone to knock on your door and ask you a couple of questions such as “The number of people living or staying at your home” and “is your home owned or rented?” and “The sex of each person in the household.” This month, however, people are already getting notices to let them know what will be taking place in a couple of months. There are some people in the country that are not looking forward to this kind of intrusion. Some of those people are actually quite afraid of answering personal questions. 

Even though the Census 2020 will not include any citizenship questions, people are still suspicious about answering the survey at all.  

On January 10, Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, spoke in front of Congress to inform them that the Latino community is afraid of opening their doors to Census workers and answering their questions. 

“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. His entire statement was posted on Facebook. “This is exacerbated by a hostile environment toward immigrants propagated by this administration.”

But it’s not just the Latino community that is cautious about answering the Census questions but Asians too. 

“When the administration proposed to add the citizenship question without any testing, we knew right away we had a five-alarm fire … like any fire, the damage that has been done takes time to repair,” John Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, also told Congress, according to NBC News

The hearing last week took place in an effort to understand why there are difficulties in getting accurate information from people living in the U.S. One of the obstacles that were discussed, aside from their fear of citizenship questions, is that Census workers are not reaching out to “hard-to-count” communities. 

“Hard-to-count communities are in every state and district, from large urban areas to rural and remote communities, including American Indian tribal lands and reservations,” Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, told NBC News. 

So why is it important for everyone to answer the Census 2020 questions accurately?

Credit: naleoedfund / Instagram

Some people might not truly grasp the severity of answering the Census 2020 questions. It’s not just a survey but a way to track every person living in the U.S. to get proper funding for programs, schools, and a lot more. 

“The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be taken every ten years to count all people—both citizens and non-citizens—living in the United States,” a PBS report states. “Responding to the Census is mandatory because getting a complete and accurate count of the population is critically important. An accurate count of the population serves as the basis for fair political representation and plays a vital role in many areas of public life.”

Aside from public funding, having an accurate assessment of each individual will help in times of natural disasters and emergency responses. Federal funds are also distributed based on population. Another crucial factor in gathering accurate information is that when it comes to voting, the government understands how many representatives are needed for each district. 

While the Census has always faced issues in trying to gather the most accurate information, it was during the Trump Administration that minority communities became distrusting of information the government was requesting. 

Credit: naleoedfund / Instagram

Since 2018, the Trump administration pushed to have a citizenship question added to the Census 2020 but got immediate pushback from virtually everyone. Even the Supreme Court ruled that a citizenship question was off the table. He still pushed for it. Several immigration organizations, however, went after Trump’s agenda and sued against his tactics. 

“President Trump is adding the citizenship question into his toxic stew of racist rants and draconian policies in order to stoke fear, undercount, and strip political power from immigrant communities,” Sarah Brannon, Managing Attorney, ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement last summer. 

Steven Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition, added to her sentiment by saying, “A citizenship question on the U.S. census is toxic to New York’s four million immigrants and all New Yorkers, who stand to lose millions of dollars in federal aid and representation in Congress. We will use every tool at our disposal to fight for a fair and accurate count. This is our New York and we’re not going to lose a dime, or our voices, to the Trump administration in Washington D.C.”

About a month later, Trump gave up his Census fight. Yet still, people remain fearful and untrusting of government questions. But can you blame them?

READ: Latinos NEED to Count All Their Children for the 2020 Census

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

Supreme Court Won’t Rule On Trump’s Case To Remove Undocumented People From The 2020 Census

Things That Matter

Supreme Court Won’t Rule On Trump’s Case To Remove Undocumented People From The 2020 Census

Patrick Semansky / Getty Images

Update December 17, 2020

The United States Supreme Court refused to rule on President Donald Trump’s attempt to have undocumented people removed from the 2020 census. The decision is another in a long line of losses for the Trump administration

The Trump administration lost their bid to have undocumented people kicked off the census count.

For months, organizations did everything they could to get everyone counted in the census. The Trump administration launched several attacks on the census to keep undocumented people from filling out their census. The Trump administration attempted to first include a citizenship question on the census and lost that battle because the Constitution has no stipulation on citizenship to participate in the census.

Another tactic by the Trump administration was to get the Supreme Court to allow them to stop the count early. The ongoing pandemic served as a reason by the court to end the count early to the dismay of immigrant activists. Door-to-door counting was stopped in the spring because of Covid-19.

President Trump’s last attempt to alter the census in the Republican Party’s favor was to have the Supreme Court exclude undocumented respondents. However, the Census Bureau said that there was not enough time to find the people and exclude them before the numbers were due to Congress. The administration was handed this loss around the same time that President Trump lost his attempts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Original: The drama over the 2020 Census just won’t stop. It seems that we’re caught up in a never-ending (though all important) saga over the results from this year’s census count – one that could have a major impact on everything from congressional representation to federal funding.

The Trump Administration, in its conintued assault on the migrant community, has asked the Supreme Court for permission to exclude all undocumented residents from being counted – even though that has never happened in the country’s 244 year history.

During this week’s arguments over the case, the court’s justices all seemed to cast doubt on Trump’s plan but not necessarily for the same reasons. Though some immigration advocated worry that the Supreme Court is still set to grant the outgoing Donald Trump a lame duck victory that could cause major headaches for a President Biden.

The Supreme Court seemed skeptical of Trump’s plan to exclude undocumented immigrants from census.

On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments over Trump’s plan to exclude undocumented residents from the census count. But during an audio-only oral argument session that stretched to more than an hour and a half, there appeared to be few, if any, takers on the high court for Trump’s effort to leave all unlawful immigrants out of the critical count.

Even many of the court’s most conservative justices – including those Trump named to the court – seemed highly skeptical of the constitutionality of the president’s move, but they also expressed misgivings about ruling on that issue now when thorny questions about smaller groups of undocumented migrants could be just weeks away.

The court’s conservatives, who hold a 6-3 majority, signaled such a ruling might be premature based on the administration’s admission that it does not yet know how or if it will be able to implement the proposal.

Several of the justices seemed to imply that rushing a decision through would be a major mistake.

Even Trump’s own Census Bureau admitted that it has no idea yet how many people would be excluded or when it will have the answer. The justices appeared to be reluctant to act immediately to block the plan based on that admission alone.

“Career experts at the Census Bureau confirmed with me that they still don’t know even roughly how many illegal aliens they will be able to identify, let alone how their number and geographic concentration may affect apportionment,” said acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall, the government’s chief lawyer.

Near the outset of Monday’s session, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed to be urging some delay, despite the fact that the court urgently accelerated arguments in the case at the request of the Trump administration.

“What is the problem with post-apportionment litigation?” Roberts asked. “We don’t know what the secretary is going to do. We don’t know what the president is going to do. We don’t know how many aliens will be excluded. We don’t know what the effect of that will be on apportionment. All these questions would be resolved if we wait until the apportionment takes place.”

Much of the argument session turned on technical procedural questions about whether the suit is premature, since the Census Bureau hasn’t yet provided Trump with its report. Some justices also speculated that the number of foreigners the Census Bureau ultimately identifies as potentially subject to exclusion could wind up being so small that it wouldn’t have much impact on the apportionment of House seats among the states.

“I find the posture of this case quite frustrating,” Justice Samuel Alito said. “It could be we are dealing with a possibility that is quite important. It could be that this is much ado about very little.”

A ruling in Trump’s favor on this case would have serious implications for Democratic-leaning states.

Lawyers for the states that oppose the plan and groups affected by it told the justices that it would shift money and political power away from states with large immigrant populations and that it would violate the Constitution and federal law.

The Constitution requires a census every 10 years, and the results determine how many members of Congress each state gets in the House of Representatives. The data are also used to calculate local governments’ share of $1.5 trillion under many federal programs.

California, Florida and Texas would each lose one seat in the House, and Alabama, Minnesota and Ohio would each keep a seat they would otherwise lose to population shifts, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. Other predictions show Arizona losing a seat, too, and Montana gaining one.

The states would lose equal numbers of Electoral College votes, which are based on the size of their House delegations.

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