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HF Wants an Accurate Census Count, So Should You

Decennial Census data are used to reapportion the US House of Representatives, guide redistricting at all levels of government, and inform the allocation of more than $800 billion in federal government resources to states, localities, and families every year. In other words, the Census is a very big deal.

Unfortunately, actions taken by the federal government have made it more likely that Census 2020 will massively undercount people of color and immigrants across the nation. For one thing, the Census Bureau’s preparations for the 2020 Census have been significantly hampered due to years of underfunding. But just as disturbingly, the last-minute addition of a citizenship question has only further disrupted the Bureau’s plans for data collection and has significantly amplified fear and distrust of government within immigrant communities. The matter of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census is now before the Supreme Court but we have to prepare for the worst.

The impact of an inaccurate census count extends far beyond apportionment and federal allocations. As our friend David Kenny, CEO of Nielsen, recently pointed out, the impact of an inaccurate census count will be felt everywhere in our society. “Businesses depend on Census data to make strategic and operations decisions, as they plan what to make, who to make it for, where to market it, where to sell it and how to adapt to the nation’s changing demographics. Banks and financial institutions, for example, use census information to create financial products for certain segments of the population. Utility companies use it to decide on the location of cell towers and new power lines. Health care companies also need an intimate understanding of the demographic makeup of different markets when they consider whether to open or close a hospital or an urgent care facility. Retailers, manufacturers and businesses of all types need accurate population data to decide where to locate manufacturing plants, distribution centers, or brick-and-mortar stores.”

It’s precisely because of this combination of political and economic importance, that Hispanic Federation has launched a network-wide, multi-state campaign to make sure that we have an accurate census count in 2020.

“The addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Census will undoubtedly make our work to ensure a full count of our community that much harder. Even without that question, we will have to conduct an aggressive outreach and engagement campaign in hard-to-reach communities like ours,” said Hispanic Federation President José Calderón. “Latino community-based nonprofits are well-positioned to do so but they need the financial means to carry that work out. It is why we will be engaging and encouraging corporations, foundations and individuals to give to make sure that we get to as close to an accurate count as possible. We ALL have so much riding on that happening.”

It’s unclear what the Supreme Court will decide about the citizenship question in 2020, but we must act now to protect the overall well-being of our communities and states. We stand ready to do everything within our means to help. If you would like to get involved in our efforts, please contact Alejandra Sorto at