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Who Counts? You do.

Who Counts? You do.

The 2020 Census is upon us. Ever since the administration threatened to put the citizenship question on the census, the overriding questions facing the immigrant community have been, “Is it safe to respond?” and “Should I even respond?” Immigrants, especially immigrants who are unlawfully present in the United States or who have family in the United States who are unlawfully present are afraid that the census information will be used against them.

This fear is understandable. This fear is reasonable. This administration counts on this fear. Even after it was decided to not put the citizenship question on the census, there have been additional public announcements that Department of Homeland Security will share information with the Department of Commerce, which manages the census process. The President has tweeted that there are other ways of getting and sharing citizenship information. This fear needs to be conquered.

The scary truth is that we live in a surveillance society. All of us, whether citizen or not, are under near constant surveillance. Traffic cameras are on streetlights. Private citizens add to the video surveillance with Ring and other ‘smart doorbells.’ Scanners can triangulate the location of cell phones even when the owner is not actively using the cell phone. The Department of Homeland Security uses information obtained when someone enters the United States to track them years later. Responding to the census does not increase the odds of that you will be found or tracked.

Everyone counts, so everyone should be counted.

Why should anyone complete the census? First, it is the law. Just as it is required to pay taxes on income in the United States, even if you are not authorized to work, or have a driver’s license to drive a car, you are required to respond to the census. The Constitution requires the United States government to do a complete count of every person in the United States every ten years. This is not “every citizen,” nor “every adult,” nor “every man”, nor “every voter.” The census counts every person in the United States.

Second, this is how the federal government and the state governments determine what communities need. Your family and your community depend on this funding.

Funding for schools, for hospitals, and for roads are all evaluated based on information collected from the census. Governments evaluate what services to offer based on census information. Staffing decisions and needs assessments are made by analyzing census information.

Third, political power is distributed based on the census. Districts are drawn based on census information. The census determines how many United States representatives each state gets in the Congress. Electoral college votes are allocated by the census. The census determines strength of the state’s voice in the federal government.

Who counts? You do. Stand up and be counted.