Author: Victoria Cadostin
The census count dictates how to divide up seats in Congress among the states, determine elected representation, and calculate local funding for public services. Empowering all people in America to complete the census allows us to provide the services and elected representation people need to survive and thrive. This is so important, in fact, that the Constitution explicitly requires that the census must “[count] the whole number of persons in each State.”
Still, communities of Black, Indigenous, and people of color, as well as LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, and low-income people have been traditionally undercounted in the census. As a result, they have been underrepresented in the halls of power and inadequately served by government-funded social services. Now, recent actions by the Trump administration promises to deepen this disparity.
Excluding Undocumented Immigrants
On July 21, the Trump administration released a memo calling for the exclusion of undocumented immigrants from the official 2020 Census count. If the proposal is put into place, immigrants living across the US will be denied appropriate representation and services. But even if the policy isn’t enacted, news about it will cause enough confusion among undocumented, mixed-status, and other immigrant families to drive down already low census numbers.
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We at Family Equality support immigrant families, including those that are LGBTQ+, regardless of immigration status. In fact, we helped lead the successful effort to include protections against discrimination based on immigration status, as well as sexual orientation and gender identity, in the House’s May HEROES Act to fund COVID-19 response services. It is no surprise that we vehemently oppose the President’s unconstitutional ploy to limit the representation of immigrant communities in the census.
Accelerating the Deadline in a Pandemic
In addition to the Trump administration’s July 21 memo, they reversed the Census Bureau’s request to extend the census reporting deadline because of delays caused by COVID-19. Instead, the administration proposed an even shorter census timeline. By accelerating the counting, the Census Bureau wouldn’t be able to devote the appropriate time to counting marginalized communities. As a result, they would be forced to provide an incomplete census count to Congress in December. This proposal would also upend the $16 billion census and derail the Census Bureau’s efforts to tally the remaining roughly 40% of households that have not filled out the census form on their own—a task already made much more difficult by the COVID pandemic, which restricts the ability of census workers to safely complete door by door visits to ensure census participation.
Given the devastating effects of the COVID pandemic on individuals and families, the Trump administration should not be speeding up the census process for political purposes. Rather, they should be giving everyone, including the Census Bureau and its employees, additional time to fill out the census in the safest manner possible.
What You Can Do to Help
We at Family Equality stand with the rest of the civil rights community in fighting to make sure that the 2020 Census counts everyone, undocumented or otherwise.
The truth is, Trump does not have final authority over the census, Congress does. Join us in telling the Senate to pass the HEROES Covid-19 Bill—which includes additional funding for the census—and ensure an accurate and inclusive 2020 Census.