Immigrant advocates debunk myths to get out the count

A person holds census information at an event in Queens.
REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

In the final weeks before the 2020 Census ends, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and NY Counts 2020 are working with census leaders, elected officials and immigrant rights advocates to get out the count.

As of Sept. 8, NYIC said 58.8 percent of households in New York City and 61.9 percent of households across New York State had filled out the census.

NYIC said on Sept. 8 that both the city and state are trailing the national self-response rate of 65.5 percent.

Before and during the 2020 Census, NYIC said the Trump administration has stoked fear in immigrant communities — first by attempting to put a citizenship question on the census, and now by seeking to unconstitutionally block undocumented individuals from being counted to create Congressional districts.

While the NYIC and partners are suing the Trump administration for its most recent attack on immigrant communities, NYIC said fear of participation in the census remains high.

Additionally, the White House announced it would cut short critical door-knocking efforts for the 2020 Census. As of Sept. 8, Bureau workers were expected to cease conducting in-person interviews for the census on Sept. 30, 2020.

“We’re in crunch time, and New York’s future depends on all New Yorkers—and all immigrants—filling out the Census,” said Steve Choi, executive director of New York Immigration Coalition, an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State. “We cannot let the Trump administration undermine it.

“We have the enormous task of rebuilding our state in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added. “New Yorkers simply cannot afford an undercount, nor can we allow Trump to scare us into being undercounted. The 2020 Census determines our future — the allocation of billions of federal dollars for New York’s schools, roads, hospitals, our representation in Congress, and more for the next decade.”

In the final weeks, Choi said immigrant advocates plan on “doing everything we can to assure immigrant communities that they can and must participate in the Census safely as required by law.”

By law, the US government is constitutionally required to count the number of people living in the United States every 10 years.

“All New Yorkers from all backgrounds, regardless of immigration status, must be counted,” Choi said. “This includes children, seniors, people who are homeless or undocumented, and people of all nationalities.”

He said the public can respond online to be counted: my2020census.gov.

Starting in August, census door-knockers began conducting interviews of New York households that did not self-respond.

Choi said the census is safe, secure and confidential, and that no individual’s data can be shared with any other government agencies by law, and that includes no data sharing is allowed with the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition, he said there is no citizenship question on the 2020 Census, stressing that NYIC and allies fought the Trump administration “all the way to the Supreme Court to block the blatant attempt to politicize the Census with a citizenship question.”

To fill out the census online, or for more information, visit my2020census.gov. Sample questions from the 2020 Census can be found at 2020census.gov/en/about-questions.html.

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