Rethinking the US census, the challenge to its director

The 2020 census excluded a proportion of Hispanic, black, and Native American citizens. To avoid repetition, Census Bureau Director, Mexican-American Robert Santos, is considering reorganizing it and improving technology.

The census results determine the number of seats for each state in the US House of Representatives and serve as a basis for allocating federal funds, hence the fact that some demographic groups are outdone and others are undercounted. Some associations are outraged.

In March, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund raised eyebrows because 4.9% of the Hispanic or Hispanic population was excluded from the census (compared to 1.54% for 2010).

Santos explains that the Supreme Court requires that the statistic obtained from the decimal census be used to allocate seats in Congress and redistricting, which is why the country’s total population is taken, which is “absolutely accurate” data in the 2020 census.

He adds, “What people don’t understand is that something other than a decimal is used in federal funding allocations. We use population estimates, which include decimals, but also other data” because population changes over time. .

However, the lack of minorities worries this Mexican American from San Antonio (south), whose ancestors immigrated from Mexico in the early 20th century due to the Mexican Revolution.

His team seeks “a better way to represent Latin Americans and Africans, as well as children ages zero to four” through the population estimates they make between each decile to include births, deaths, and immigration. ..

“We need to rethink how censuses are conducted: We seek to modernize technology and use really good and well-established government administrative records,” such as the Tax Service, Social Security and Federal Health Insurance Program files, which are included in Santos’ list, in an interview with AFP.

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These files are very useful for people who are “easy to count,” who will be counted anyway, so if these files are used for them, it will lower the cost and “these savings can be allocated to communities that are historically difficult to count.”, such as the neighborhoods they live in Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans,” he suggests.

– hard to count –

Why is it difficult to count them?

“It’s always been this way… some people don’t want to be counted. Some people live in hard-to-find housing situations” for a myriad of reasons, including homes with a garage in the back that have been converted into an apartment. It requires “someone to go and look. And it’s the most expensive way to do it.”

The status of people not wanting to be counted is an “issue of trust. There has been a lot of mistrust among people who are historically difficult to consider immigrants in the United States” in the 2020 census.

Some associations assert that former Republican President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about zero tolerance for immigration generated mistrust and fear among undocumented immigrants.

Santos does not want to delve into whether there is political interference.

“What was difficult to calculate historically has become difficult to calculate” due to many factors but above all, he says, because of the pandemic, “because there are families of Latin Americans and Africans who have lost their jobs.”

“They were basically struggling, and the last thing they would think of was filling out the census form…they had much bigger problems to deal with.”

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Santos, who has held the position for a little more than four months, considers it essential to build trust with local communities, explaining to them that “the data we collect for them and with them helps” as it affects the distribution of funds to schools, infrastructure and security problems and climate change… in Their day is their day.

erl / dem

Sacha Woodward

"Wannabe writer. Lifelong problem solver. Gamer. Incurable web guru. Professional music lover."

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