Officials fear Texans could lose out on millions in upcoming census count

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Justice Department says the 2020 Census is moving ahead without a question about citizenship.

Kristen Clarke, an attorney for a civil rights group that helped fight the addition of the question, says Trump Administration attorneys notified parties in lawsuits that the printing of the hundreds of millions of documents for the 2020 counts would be starting soon.

Justice Department spokeswoman Kelly Laco has confirmed there would be “no citizenship question on 2020 census.”

Even still, there are concerns in Austin and across the state that there will be an under-count. Officials say there’s more work to be done to regain trust in certain sections of our community.

“The damage may have been done already,” said Luis Figueroa, the legislative and policy director for the Center for Public Policy Priorities.

Austin’s boom has led to significant growth and every head needs to be counted to receive financial funds meant for things like highways, healthcare and schools.

“All of Texas is going to benefit from an accurate count, regardless of your ethnicity, race and where in Texas you will live,” Figueroa said.

Figueroa said the debate over a citizenship question may have already led to a reluctance to fill out the forms, despite the controversy coming to a presumed conclusion.

The Commerce Department had argued the collection of data regarding citizenship would enable the Justice Department to better enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voters.

“There is still going to be a mistrust with the census and a mistrust that this information will be used in a nefarious way to immigration enforcement,” Figueroa said.

According to the CPPP, even a one percent under-count would mean Texas could lose out on $300 million per year over the next decade.

“There’s going to be a tremendous amount of work to build that trust back, to get all Texans to feel comfortable filling out that census.”

Luis Figueroa, Center for Public Policy Priorities

To ensure an accurate count, groups are calling on trusted leaders in the community to speak to people across Austin and reinforce the importance of the census.

“[We are] trying to engage community leaders, elected officials, to really promote the census because we are going to need everyone on deck,” Figueroa said.

The White House didn’t immediately comment on the decision. President Donald Trump has decried last week’s Supreme Court ruling saying the question was sought under a false pretext.

Spokespeople for the U.S. Census Bureau have not responded to emails or phone calls seeking comment.

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