Once again, the 2020 Census is facing another threat to its accuracy and completion. Beyond the very present threat of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a new memorandum from President Donald Trump this week orders that undocumented immigrants be excluded from the census counts that are used to divide up seats in congress. This change is unprecedented and unconstitutional. It is already being challenged by Congress and in court.
There is still no citizenship question on the 2020 Census.
To be clear, there is still no citizenship question on the 2020 Census. The administration will not be able to use census data that is now being collected to determine how many undocumented immigrants reside in respective states. But the message that this memo sends to immigrant communities about their personhood, and the trustworthiness of the census, adds a new layer to the deep mistrust that for many people already serves as a barrier to complete the census. Furthermore, with no real plan to produce these counts of undocumented immigrants, the order has been interpreted by many as solely a thinly veiled attempt to sow mistrust and skew census data. Ohio is home to more than 555,500 immigrants; just under half of those are not U.S. citizens. An undercount of this group would have severe implications for Ohio’s future representation and funding.
An undercount of this group would have severe implications for Ohio’s future representation and funding.
As Community Solutions has written about extensively, accurate census data is vital for many reasons. It will inform the distribution of federal funds that will support the social safety net and our local economies for the next decade. It ensures that all people have the congressional representation they deserve. And the data is the gold standard on who lives in our communities. It also undergirds so much of the research and public policy work that we do here at Community Solutions. For all of these reasons, we strongly support efforts to get a complete and accurate count of every person living in Ohio.
If you would like to be a Census Ambassador, you can text “Pledge” or “Censo” to 614-295-9592. Visit www.OhioCensus.org to learn more.