Counting every person in the United States is the goal of the census.
For one, the population totals from the decennial census determine the number of seats each state has in the House of Representatives.
Members of the House make and pass federal laws that impact the lives of all Americans.
States use census totals to redraw their legislative and school districts. So do local governments.
Trump Injects Controversy into Census Count
The 2020 census will be the first conducted largely online. This could impact California’s response rate and that’s why state officials are funding a massive outreach effort.
But the online aspect of the census isn’t dominating the conversation.
Instead, the Trump administration has stirred fears among immigrants about the census. That’s because the Census Bureau plans to ask people on the 2020 form whether they are a citizen, U.S.-born or naturalized, or not a U.S. citizen. Some undocumented immigrants are concerned that completing the form would result in their deportation.
A citizenship question, should it pass legal muster, will produce a census undercount of as many as 6.5 million people, predominantly from “Hispanic, immigrant and foreign-born populations,” according to testimony by five former Census Bureau directors, Rolling Stone reported Dec. 13. Suffering most from the undercount, the former Census Bureau leaders, testified, would be urban communities.”
To allay such fears, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pledged at a Latino Coalition-sponsored event in October that all information would be kept confidential.
Still, states with large numbers of immigrants such as California, are redoubling efforts to count everyone in the 2020 census.
In addition, 17 states — led by New York — are suing to block the Trump administration from adding the citizenship question. The U.S. Supreme Court has set Feb. 19, 2019, for arguments over the evidence a federal judge can consider in the lawsuit.
The Pew Research Center says that there were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States in 2016, representing 3.3% of the total U.S. population.
Federal Funding Allocated Based on Census
The population totals affect how $675 billion in federal funding is distributed to communities each year. That will total nearly $7 trillion over the coming decade.
Many federal programs — including education, health, and human services — use census numbers as part of their funding formulas.
To help the U.S. Census Bureau count as many people as possible, states create advisory committees called Complete Count Committees.
Tribal, state and local governments and community organizations establish CCCs to increase awareness and motivate residents to respond to the 2020 census.
Nationwide, there were over 10,000 CCCs formed with the Census Bureau during the 2010 census.
The next census is April 1, 2020. The deadline for the U.S. Census Bureau to submit state population totals to the president is Dec. 31, 2020.
To prepare, many states are already creating CCCs to educate and encourage citizens to participate.
The California Census Effort
In California, the governor has the California Complete Count Committee.
“Our office will be working on a statewide effort to reach out to and bring awareness to Californians,” said Diana Crofts-Pelayo, the communications chief for the California Complete Count.
Right now, there is an office in Sacramento. The state also will open offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Fresno.
Regional Manager Will Direct Fresno Area Outreach
In Fresno, Crofts-Pelayo said the state is hiring one regional program manager. The RPM will serve as the liaisons between state and local outreach efforts.
State leaders made a historic commitment to the 2020 census, Crofts-Pelayo said, because of the importance of counting all Californians.
“Our outreach plan is massive and, as such, we are dedicating more than $60 million toward it statewide,” Crofts-Pelayo said.
The funding can be broken down into three main areas, Crofts-Pelayo said.
Counties, Grassroots Groups Will Receive $60 Million
The state has allocated $30 million to counties to help them operate their local CCCs. It allocated another $30 million to community-based organizations that will also help reach hard-to-count individuals, Crofts-Pelayo said.
“We have divided this in a way that the funding will be made available statewide to make sure it reaches groups in every part of California,” she said.
Crofts-Pelayo said there will also be an allocation of funds for the development of a census curriculum in California schools. She said the funds will also help in partnering with other state agencies to spread the word about the census to their participants.
Further Info Available
For more information, call the federal call center at 301-763-4636 or 800-923-8282, send an e-mail to ask.census.gov, or visit the U.S. Census Bureau website.