“Not everyone is registered to vote or can vote, but everyone can participate in the Census,” sais Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS. She is encouraging every Latino to get counted in the 2020 Census: “It is easy and safe for everyone to do.” During a tele-town hall hosted by NALEO Educational Fund and Telemundo’s El Poder En Ti, a group of national organizations working on the Census spread the word about the importance of participating.
By Beatriz Paniego-Béjar, Content Specialist, UnidosUS
When it comes to the Census, Latinos are one of the hardest-to-count communities in the country. Of the one million young children who are estimated to not be counted in the Census, 40% were Latino children under five. María Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino, said during the town hall that she understands there is a lot of trepidation about filling out the Census among parts of our community, but that if we don’t count our children, “they won’t have a desk in their school for the next 10 years.”
As Lizette Escobedo, NALEO Educational Fund’s Census Director, said: “The Census is not a political issue, it is a community issue.” Based on census data, $675 billion in federal funding gets distributed each year, financing programs and services including schools, health care, affordable housing, SNAP, and more. For example, this data is now directing how the COVID-19 response gets distributed, as Murguía pointed out.
FILL OUT THE CENSUS NOW
The Census Bureau has allowed for more time to submit census forms due to the coronavirus pandemic, and now we have until October 31 to fill it out. However, as how Arturo Vargas, NALEO Educational Fund CEO, said: “Let’s do everything we can to encourage everyone to get counted now.”
From March 12, letters started to arrive to U.S. households, encouraging families to self-respond online, by phone, or by mail. This week, April 13–19, is when the paper forms are mailed out to the homes that have not responded yet. “Reaseach shows that Latinos prefer to reply on paper,” Vargas explains, which is why this week was chosen as the Latino Week of Action to ensure a fair and accurate count of our community.
During this week, an array of strategies were used to reach our diverse community, from Latinx millennials and Gen Zs (of whom research says are the least informed about the Census), to Latinas, Hispanic families, and the immigrant community. A Twitter chat about the issue had more than 9 million impressions. Families with children were contacted to ensure they count their kids. The Present is Latina campaign is focusing on reaching the women in our community, “who are often the matriarchs, the centers of their families, the centers of their communities, and influencers in terms of decision-making and folks listening and respecting their voices,” as Lucy Flores from Luz Collective stated.
YOU ARE PROTECTED
Sindy Benavides, CEO of LULAC, explained during the town hall how easy it is to fill out the Census, and how little time it takes: “It took me about 10 minutes to fill it out. It will depend on the size of your family, but it is fast.” She also explained to the audience how she’s helping her parents fill it out, and taking the time to encourage everyone she knows to do the same. “My big ask is that, if we have time to watch Netflix, go for walks, meditate, etc., we can also text our loved ones and ask if they have filled out their Census.”
Benavides and Serena Prammanasudh, from United We Dream, spoke as well about the fear our community has about how their information will be used: “By law, census reponses are confidential and can only be used for statistical purposes. The information won’t be used by any government agency, even law enforcement,” Prammanasudh repeated twice during the town hall, and reinforced that the citizenship question is not on the Census.
MAKE YOURSELF COUNT
“The bottom line is that we want our community to respond now,” Vargas concluded, because “if we undercount Latinos, you don’t have an accurate count of the country.” Please ensure that you fill out the Census online, by phone, or by mail, all without having to meet a census worker, now. You can do it in 13 different languages.
Learn more about the Census on our page here, learn how to fill it out at NALEO’s Hágase Contar website, or their support line, 877-EL-CENSO, and get updates on your phone texting LATINASCOUNT to 97779.