The Blaine County Journal News-Opinion - We've Got The County Covered

U.S. Census Bureau Ends Count Early, Under-representing Impacted Communities of Color


August 19, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, the U.S. Census Bureau cut the response period deadline early by an entire month disproportionately affecting the counting of Black, Brown, Indigenous and immigrant communities. The census determines the allocation of nearly $1.5 trillion in federal funds yearly for essential programs and is used to determine representation in the House of Representatives based on population. The move comes after the Trump administration released a memo in late July calling for the exclusion of unauthorized immigrants from the count that decides seats in Congress, which critics said would lead to under-counting marginalized groups and people of color. Spokespersons for North Dakota Native Vote, Western Native Voice, and Idaho Organization of Resource Councils made the following statements in reaction to the decision:

“Nearly all of our tribal communities are drastically under-counted in North Dakota. Communities with a response rate of less than 30% are considered crisis areas. The Census Bureau must be given adequate time, especially during this pandemic to accurately count, tabulate, and report the resident population of our communities. The Constitutional mandate of the U.S. Census to provide accurate data for redistricting and funding is being purposely undermined. We need our communities to act now and complete the Census.” Wes Davis, Chairman, North Dakota Native Vote

“When I heard the news of the change, my heart sank thinking about what is at stake for our Native communities, our state, and our country. We have necessary tribal programs such as healthcare and housing that are federally funded and will be severely impacted by an undercount. COVID-19 implications initially halted all census activities on our tribal nations and were resumed in July on some tribal nations. However, non response follow up has not been approved by all tribal nations hardest hit by the pandemic, so our communities are way behind schedule and cutting us short of 31 days in October will be devastating for many families that rely on federally funded services. It will also jeopardize our Native majority voting districts here in Montana, which our Native leaders have fought long and hard for. Losing those districts would be another move to silence our Native voices. I call on the decision-makers to find the courage to allow those 31 more days to ensure we are complying with the constitution and counting all people living in the United States of America. ” Marci McLean, Executive Director, Western Native Voice

“There is no reason why immigrants in the U.S. should be excluded from Census data. The Constitution requires that everyone in the United States be counted in the census. There is no exception. Everyone - adults, children, young, old, citizens, and non-citizens are to be counted. Everyone must be counted in order to allocate funding for federal programs, give accurate representation in congress, the electoral college, and the state legislature. All communities should be counted within the appropriate and necessary period of time in order for us to receive the representation and services we all need.” Marielena Vega, Vision 2C Resource Council, Idaho Organization of Resource Councils.


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