Things That Matter

Latinos Face Severe Underrepresentation With 2020 Census, Here’s Why That Matters

The battle over a citizenship question on the 2020 US Census has been a long one. It recently went before the Supreme Court and things don’t look great.

In oral arguments before the court, it appeared that the conservative justices would join together to allow the potentially catastrophic citizenship question.

Credit: @OKPolicy / Twitter

It’s a decision that will could pose serious risks to minority populations across the country.

The count from the US Census is essential at allocating federal dollars for all sorts of programs and even determines our representation in the US Congress.

And now a National Latino Commission is warning of the truly dire effects that a citizenship question could have on the Latino community.

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In an interview with NBC News, the commission’s executive director said “The census is at the greatest risk than it has ever been in our lifetime.

Census data is used to decide how many U.S. House representatives each state gets, to divvy up funding for education, transportation, health and other programs among states and communities and by states to draw political election districts, as well as for voting rights enforcement.

In communities where Latinos and other minorities form the majority, this will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable.

And the 2020 Census is taking place at a time of heightened fear given the Trump administration’s rhetoric against immigrants and Latinos in particular.

It is completely understandable why many in our community would be afraid to answer questions regarding citizenship or immigration status given the threatening messages coming out of the federal, state, and even local levels of government.

The commission isn’t just worried about immigrants being afraid to answer. They’re also worried about people with undocumented family members, many could fear responding altogether.

The battle leading up to the Supreme Court decision has been a rollercoaster of emotions for the Latino Commission.

Credit: @ABCPolitics / Twitter

Three different federal judges all dealt a blow to the Trump administrations plans to include the question. However, all of that hope came to a grinding halt when the Supreme Court agreed to take up the question. And having cemented a conservative-leaning majority on the nation’s highest court, many are fearful of the results.

The implications of a citizenship question would be far-reaching across the US but in particular for states with large immigrant populations like California, New York, and Texas.

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Seriously, everything from food assistance, healthcare for children, daycare assistance, all of it is at risk of being severely underfunded if Latinos and other minority groups don’t stand up to be counted.

Why is this happening now? The Census historically hasn’t had a citizenship question.

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Back in 1985, then-Census Bureau director warned the Senate that if you were to include a citizenship question, the agency could be seen as an enforcement agency working together with immigration officials. He made it clear that this was not what the Census was intended for.

But still, after all these dire warnings, some on Twitter just don’t get it.

Credit: @jpalmer2000 / Twitter

The US Constitution makes it clear that every ten years there needs to be a population count. It also makes it clear that the count is to be of all persons in US territory. It doesn’t exclude immigrants from this count.

All of this understandably has people living in fear that the government could be going door-to-door, asking about their citizenship status, and then a few weeks, days, or months later, an agent from ICE could show up and take them away.

READ: Immigration Advocates Are Concerned That A New Census Question Will Take Money From States With High Immigrant Populations

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