JACL Condemns Proposed Early End to Counting for the Census
In an announcement made on August 3, the Census Bureau discussed the remaining schedule for the 2020 Census, briefly mentioning that it would cut short its deadline to end census counting. This new deadline brings the end of Census outreach and self-response from October 31, 2020, to September 30, 2020, a month shorter than previously agreed upon by both Congress and the Administration. This is an egregious decision that will leave millions of people uncounted and is a further continuation of the Administration’s attempt to undermine the Census.
This is only the latest in several past attempts by the Administration to change the way in which the Census will consider counting people. The first attempt was the inclusion of a citizenship question that many feared would be used against undocumented immigrants. After the Supreme Court ruled against the inclusion of such a question, the Administration announced a Presidential Memorandum proposing to exclude undocumented immigrants as people in congressional redistricting. The pandemic has already made it difficult to get an accurate count; these additional attempts to change guidelines and rules makes it even harder.
With so much at stake for underrepresented communities, and especially as we cope with COVID-19, an accurate Census count is more important than ever. Currently, the response numbers are already the lowest they’ve ever been, with a national average of only 62.9%, compared to 63.5% in 2010. In rural and tribal communities the numbers are even lower, and in large cities with high populations of communities of color, they are lower still. Census enumerators will have more communities and households to visit than before. With in-person outreach being so important to disenfranchised communities, an earlier end date means millions of people who are at risk of never being counted.
Congress must act to ensure that the 2020 Census reflects an accurate count and portrait of all of America, to ensure that communities that need support receive it over the next decade. This would be important at any given time, but even more so now as we envision our country and its needs with the long-term effects of this pandemic.