Latino advocates fear undercount in Texas as US Census Bureau cuts deadline by a month

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (Texas) — Earlier this week, the U.S. Census Bureau updated its deadline for responses to the 2020 Census. Originally, the count was set to last until October 31, but that has now been pushed up to Sept. 30.

So far, 58% of Texas households have responded to the survey without needing to be contacted by Census Bureau field operatives. In the 2010 Census, 71% of households self-responded, leaving the rest to be counted by field operatives.

U.S. Census Bureau Regional Director Cathy Lacy said field operations are now back on track, after having to temporarily pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our census employees will have a mask, they’re going to have a handheld device, and they’re going to be backing up once that door opens to create that six foot distancing between our respondent and our numerator,” Lacy explained.

The League of United Latin American Citizens said the recent change in deadline will adversely affect undeserved communities, including Latinos.

“Field operations is essential to reach vulnerable and hard to count communities,” LULAC CEO Sindy Benavides said, “Hard to reach communities is the Latino community.”

“They have already said that, you know, in the middle of a pandemic, it was hard to count all of our communities and now you push that that line up for one month, which means now you have, you know, five less weeks that you can actually do all this work, we really question the validity of the data,” Benavides added.

Benavides explained the main concern with an under-count has multiple layers, including redistricting, funding and more.

“The policies that are formulated for the next few years that impact all of America, not just one segment, but all Texans, all Floridians, all of America would also be skewed. And so, you know, again, this for us is a way to undermine, to break the system to create a massive under-count of what America is going through at this moment,” Benavides said.

State legislators are trying to reach out to their communities to get the word out about self-responding, State Sen. Carol Alvarado explained.

“Texas stands to lose a lot if this isn’t done right,” Sen. Alvarado said.

“It was estimated that from the 2010 census that Texas was going to show a population growth of about 3.8 million people,” Sen. Alvarado continued, “That means a lot of money for various public services. 1% undercount equals $292 million each year of loss.”

The Census Bureau, however, is confident it will still be able to count all households by the new deadline.

“I feel that we’re going to be out there, we’re going to get this completed, we’re going to get 100% of our households represented with the census,” Lacy said.

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