Haaland, Stands with House Leaders to Encourage Communities of Color to Participate in the Census

March 9, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – As households across the United States are one week away from receiving their invitations to participate in the Census, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (NM-01) stood with U.S. House leaders to encourage communities of color to participate in the 2020 Census. At a press conference, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Members of the Congressional Tri-Caucus – composed of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) highlighted the impacts of the historical undercount of communities of color in the decennial census. 

Invitations to fill out the census will be sent to households in New Mexico starting March 12, 2020.

During the press conference, Haaland said, “The Census is about more than being counted. It’s about our families. It’s about our communities. It’s about ensuring we have our fair share of the resources for roads, schools, and hospitals.”

Haaland is committed to ensuring every community has a voice and that all families in New Mexico have the opportunity to thrive. Starting in January, Haaland has included information on Census jobs in Mobile Office Hours and town hall events. In addition, she and the delegation met with the U.S. Census Bureau Director in New Mexico to discuss outreach plans. In February, Haaland examined outreach practices in a House Committee on Oversight and Reform hearing with experts, and later in the month followed up on those findings during and hearing with the U.S. Census Director.

Full video of the press conference is available here.

 

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BACKGROUND

The Constitution requires that the Census count every person in the United States, no matter their age or citizenship status.  The results of the 2020 Census will determine the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives and the allocation of approximately $1.5 trillion in federal funding.  Some populations, including immigrants, communities of color, children, and people experiencing homelessness, have traditionally been more difficult to count, leading to an undercount on previous censuses.

The 2020 Census began last month in rural Alaska, and New Mexico families will begin receiving their Census invitation on March 12, 2020 with the rest of the country.  The Census Bureau must prepare to count all communities to ensure the Census results are accurate, fair, and complete.

New Mexico is one of the most difficult states to count with a high saturation of hard to count populations including: rural areas, immigrant populations, low income, and Native American communities. Specifically in New Mexico’s first Congressional District, homeless populations will require a more intensive outreach strategy for counting. Congresswoman Deb Haaland is very concerned that minority and immigrant communities, as well as rural communities with limited Internet access, are at serious risk of being undercounted in the 2020 Census, jeopardizing their accurate representation in Congress and access to federal funds.

One major cause for concern is that the Census Bureau has fallen behind its own targets for hiring census workers to reach hard-to-count communities and for hiring partnership specialists who serve as critical liaisons with these communities. 

The Census Bureau must work closely with local communities to ensure an accurate count, including by addressing fears caused by the Trump Administration’s immigration policies and the failed attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census.