California has a lot on the line with the 2020 census count.
For example, even though the current population trends point to the Golden State retaining its 53 seats in the House of Representatives, an inaccurate count could result in the loss of one seat.
In addition, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission relies on the census to draw up congressional and state legislative districts. Local officials also utilize the census to draw up seats for governing bodies such as boards of supervisors, city councils and school boards. If the census count is off, districts might not be fairly configured.
And, finally, there’s the matter of federal funding. As CALmatters’ Dan Walters reports in his July 15 column, California receives about $100 billion annually in federal funding. That money is sent to California based on its population.
Is Trump Underfunding Census?
State leaders across America worry about these factors every 10 years when the census is conducted. But for 2020, there’s a new concern for California, and it’s the person occupying the White House.
There “are rising fears among California’s political leaders, Democrats all, and myriad civil rights groups that the census will severely undercount Californians for political reasons,” writes Walters.
“The Donald Trump administration and a Republican Congress, they say, is starving the Census Bureau of the money it would need to conduct an accurate census, especially hard-to-count poor, homeless and/or undocumented immigrant residents and children. The current plan relies on computerized responses with fewer census takers being hired to physically count those who don’t respond.”
The Citizenship Question
Walters also points to concerns in California about the Trump administration’s decision to ask citizen participants whether they are U.S. citizens. Critics say the question is intended to discourage census participation by immigrants. As California’s 40 million population is swelled by undocumented immigrants, their census participation is vital to obtain an accurate count.