NEW YORK – Now is the time to begin distributing funds for promoting participation in the 2020 census: That’s the message immigrants’ advocates want Gov. Andrew Cuomo to hear.
The Trump administration’s drive to include a citizenship question on the census created fear that immigrants who participate would risk deportation. That question won’t be included, but the fear persists.
Six months ago, the governor allocated $20 million for an outreach effort to counter that fear – but while other states, such as California, already are distributing funds for similar efforts, Meeta Anand, senior census fellow with the New York Immigration Coalition, said that isn’t happening in New York yet.
“The best way to ensure that we have a strong census count,” she said, “is to turn to our community-based organizations that can help alleviate the fears that people have around the census.”
Census forms will go out next March and, for the first time, much of the census will take place online, which could further complicate the process for many immigrants.
Anand said community-based organizations already are trusted by those who may be fearful of participating in the census, but the effort needs to start in just a few months – and delaying distribution of funds makes that harder.
“That leads to a really short lead time for people to get the staffing up, get the training ready and be ready to hit the ground running Jan. 1,” she said.
The 2020 census will affect the functioning of critical federal programs and even the state’s influence in national government for the next decade, she said, and that makes it vitally important that everyone living in New York be counted.
“It has to do with how much federal funding is allocated to our state, it determines our number of representatives in the House,” she said, “and respect – it’s saying that we are visible and our communities are here.”
It has been estimated that the state stands to lose more than $2,500 for each resident from 16 federal programs if New Yorkers are undercounted in the 2020 census.
More information is online at newyorkcounts2020.org.