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The 2020 census has the capacity to alter millions of lives over the next decade. Photo: Getty Images
The 2020 census has the capacity to alter millions of lives over the next decade. Photo: Getty Images

What power does the 2020 Census have over the Latinx community?

Yet another unconstitutional move by the Trump administration threatens an accurate representation of the United States.

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The Trump administration has decided to end the 2020 Census count a month earlier than expected, a move which census experts expect will result in a dramatic undercount of Black and Latinx communities nationwide.

This includes responses by mail, online, and in-person efforts to get every American counted.

Sixty million households are still uncounted, with large populations of non-white citizens and immigrants still left out. These are largely Black and Latino communities across the country, reports The Washington Post, could have devastating effects on federal funding and political representation spanning the next decade.

Federal law requires the Census Bureau to send the population total to the White House by Dec. 31 of each census year, but COVID-19 forced officials to push the deadline to April 2021, reported the New York Times.

If the Latinx community doesn’t represent itself, funds will not make their way to their communities. The 2020 Census is necessary to receive the resources needed for the next decade.

Today, more than ever, the Hispanic and Latino participation in the U.S. Census is important. But with the national self-response at 63.2%, not great, the self-response rate in communities with high Latinx populations is even lower.

For instance, Imperial County in California, a county with a Latinx population over 80% has just a 57.6% self-response rate. 

It has always been a challenge to get an accurate representation of people in places with large Latinx populations, reports the New York Times. Add COVID-19 into the mix and the challenge is multiplied.

To mount the factors causing the disparities, the Census Bureau said last Monday it would stop door-to-door outreach a month early, likely worsening the response rate in rural areas, including those who do not have readily-available internet access.

The attack on the U.S. Census is reminiscent of the recent attacks on the U.S. Postal Service, just in time for the 2020 Presidential election, wherein mail-in ballots are expected to be the voting method of choice.

“It is a Latino and Latina mandate to respond to the Census, just as much as it is for anyone else,” said Ramiro Cavazos, President and Executive director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of the United States, during a Census Nonresponse Media Briefing on Aug. 10.

The stakes are tremendous. 

“The economic impact is impressive,” Cavazos continued. “There’s nothing more important this year.”

He mentioned there are over 4.7 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the nation, and of those, Latina business owners are six times more likely to open businesses. Therefore, the economic impact the Latinx community has on the US is a driving force behind its strength, but not if it doesn’t respond to the Census. Its potential power would then be inhibited.

Efforts to increase Latinx response have been seen through measures like “Operation Non-Response, '' which has census workers visit households that have not completed the form — all while following CDC social distancing guidelines.

Outreach such as this, along with nationwide advocacy and Spanish-language ads are imperative to getting the message of the Census across, but direct undermining in part by the Trump administration, are damaging a complete Census.

As the Presidential Election looms, undermining its integrity has become one of Trump’s most persistent endeavors. 

First, his lack of response in COVID-19 efforts had communities with high Latinx and Black populations dying at disproportionate rates, forever silencing those voices, and causing those same populations to fear leaving their homes even to cast a ballot.

Next, he tried to delay the election altogether. 

Now, he’s seeking to sink the USPS to derail the ballot-counting process, and even making sure the most disenfranchised are essentially erased from the population.

That’s the game plan we should all be fearing.

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