Why the Census matters … to all of us
Giving voice to our community: Given the current levels of fear and uncertainty in the immigrant community, and growing concerns about data security, a citizenship question could deter many of our Contra Costa neighbors from responding to the Census survey. We cannot allow this silencing to happen.
More resources for our community. An undercount of Contra Costa’s population will result in the loss of millions of federal dollars for publicly funded services (such as schools and hospitals) and local safety net programs, including Medi-Cal, CalFresh and Pell grants for college students. By one estimate, for every resident who doesn’t complete the Census survey, Contra Costa County will lose $2,000 per year in public funding, totaling $20,000 over the 10-year Census period. If just 5,000 fewer residents participate in the 2020 Census, that will result in the loss of $100 million in federal funding to the county over the next decade.
Fair political representation: Congressional seats are reapportioned every 10 years based on Census data. In addition, any local jurisdiction that uses district-based voting (such as our county board of supervisors and some city councils and school boards) use Census data to determine district boundaries. A Census undercount will affect political boundaries for years to come.
Economic opportunity: Companies use Census data to do their business planning, including where to grow, whom to market to, and whom to employ. School districts, housing planners, transportation authorities and many other public entities likewise use Census data to assess needs and plan for growth.
Equity and inclusion: The Census process is enshrined in the US Constitution to ensure that every person in the US is counted. The US government has a history of misusing the Census to oppress targeted communities, including Native Americans and Black residents. Today, the Census tracts that are designated “Hard to Count” (i.e. with historically low response rates) primarily comprise people of color, low-income and other marginalized communities. The proposed citizenship question will likely lead to a massive undercount nationally, and will particularly impact California and other states with high immigrant populations.
Our core values as a community: Tens of thousands of our neighbors in Contra Costa live in households with immigrant and mixed-status residents. These families are very much a part of our communities. Adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census threatens to erase their presence in our county and our country. We can’t stand by and let this happen.