Friday, July 12, 2024

Latinos Shy Away from Census, Growing Concern for 2020

Latino leaders are warning of a developing crisis in the 2020 census and demanding that the Census Bureau act aggressively to calm fears in immigrant populations about data misuse.

“Trust has been breached,” Laura Murillo, president and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, noted; adding that the Latino community has historically shied away from participating in census surveys, particularly Latino families with at least one member living in the U.S. illegally.

The 2020 census could have a profound impact on Texas, which stands to gain three and possibly four congressional seats due to population shifts, and where Latinos are pressing for representation to match their fast-growing numbers. But problems at the Census Bureau, leaderless since June and starved for funds, further complicate the goal of an accurate count.

Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, urged census officials to get commitments from Homeland Security and immigration officials to not interfere with the count. “I guarantee you today that if something is not done, the uncontrolled immigration enforcement force … in 2020 will have agents out there using a ruse of being a census enumerator,” he said.

Advocates are pressing the Census Bureau to swiftly devise plans to counter growing fears, but adding to those fears is the fact that the next census will take place heavily online, triggering concerns regarding hackings and participation in areas of limited connectivity.

Houston Chronicle