Electronic census will not question citizenship

CN/ Steven Adamo

By Melisa Valenzuela

The 2020 Census will no longer include a citizenship question and, for the first time in history, will allow residents to respond online. 

On April 1, the United States Census Bureau will conduct the decennial census. Its purpose is to count every resident living in the country as mandated by Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

The website, 2020Census.gov, said that beginning in mid-March residents will receive an invitation to respond to a short questionnaire by phone, by mail or, for the first time, online.

Giovany Hernandez, Regional Census Campaign Manager for Los Angeles County and a member of the National Association of Latino Democratic Officials which has been a leader in the census world for over 40 years, said the questionnaire will contain nine questions and will not include a citizenship question. 

“As of June 27, the Supreme Court made the official halt decision to the citizenship question and it will no longer appear on the questionnaire,” Hernandez said. “It (keeping the citizenship question)  was a last-minute addition that the (Trump) administration tried to force. It would’ve hurt the second largest population in the country, which is the Latino community.”

The question instills fear in immigrant communities and makes them less likely to participate in the census. 

The census helps guide planning for the future of communities by determining how billions of dollars are allocated annually. The funds are used to support fire and emergency services and other social programs like MediCal and Social Security. 

If under-resourced communities don’t participate, they don’t receive the funds that they need for education, healthcare, transportation and housing.

“California receives $115 billion every year based on the data from the census. This includes money for programs like Food Stamps, WIC and Title 1 funding for schools in low-income areas,” Hernandez said. 

The decision to allow online responses was meant to make the census accessible to everyone and follows the latest web accessibility guidelines.

However, technology is accessible to only a certain part of the population. There are still people who are not as up-to-date when it comes to technology, especially older Americans.   

Even though replies by telephone and mail are still accepted, Hernandez said it could be a great opportunity for young people to get involved by sharing their knowledge of technology with those who aren’t so savvy.

“Young people can be the bridge to the digital divide,” Hernandez said. “They can ensure relatives are participating and become ‘Census Captains’ for their families.”

 Special accommodations can be made for blind and disabled residents, including braille and large print guides or an in-person meeting with an official 2020 Census taker.        

The most important thing the results do is provide a basis for reapportioning congressional seats. Since 1790, population figures from the census have been used to make sure that the government represents the people by determining how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives.

This process is called apportionment.

As the country’s population grows, the apportionment process will guarantee equal representation for everyone.       

Preparations for the 2020 Census are already underway.

On Aug. 4, the bureau began conducting address canvassing.

They hired people from local communities to confirm the locations of houses, apartments, shelters and other places where people can live. Canvassing helps ensure a complete and accurate address list for the census. 

Although address canvassing ended Oct. 18, there are still many opportunities for employment. This is another way for young people to get involved.

Part-time and full-time positions are available, which are perfect for students.It’s a way to earn extra money while helping to make sure that the community gets counted. 

To qualify, the applicant must be at least 18 years old, have a valid social security number, be a U.S. citizen, have a valid email address, complete an application, be registered with the Selective Service System, pass a census-performed criminal background check, commit to completing training and be available to work flexible hours.

Most jobs also require access to a vehicle and a valid driver’s license and access to a computer. Applications are available online at USAJobs.com.

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