By Bill Hendrickson
From a small office on North Figueroa Street in Highland Park, a grassroots team of census advocates has been working the phones since early February. Their goal is 1,500 calls a week to alert people that the 2020 Census starts in March and to remind them to participate.
Team members also go door-to-door in Highland Park, Cypress Park, Glassell Park and Lincoln Heights, answering questions about the census and urging participation. On weekends, they visit local parks where they distribute information and deliver their message: Be counted.
The Highland Park group, made up mainly of high school and college students, was assembled by the Anahauk Youth Sports Association, a large soccer club in Northeast Los Angeles. It is one of 101 community groups in L.A. County to share in $12.7 million in state grants for public outreach on the 2020 Census. Anahuak’s share of the grant is $50,000.
The idea behind the grants is that local organizations like Anahuak, as trusted ambassadors in their neighborhoods, can best serve as messengers on the importance of being counted. Raul Macias, Anahauk’s founder and a legendary community organizer, had seven hours of training by census officials; he then trained the Anahuak census team.
The pay for team members is $16 an hour. The payoff – in terms of the good that would come from a full and accurate 2020 Census – is incalculable.
The census, which takes place once every 10 years, determines how much federal funding flows to an area for schools, housing, parks, public transit, health care and other uses. An accurate count would result in a fair share of resources, while an undercount would mean a loss of federal funds – and a pileup of unmet needs.
The census also determines the number of congressional seats from each state. An accurate count would maintain California’s presence in Washington, while an undercount could mean the loss of political power.
Equally important, the 2020 Census is a battleground for the soul of local communities. On one side, census advocates like Anahuak are promoting participation in the census.
On the other side, the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant stances have created fear in immigrant communities that information given to the census might be used to target them.
The law prevents that from happening, but the fear is real.
That’s where trusted messengers come in. “As a group of Hispanic youth, we understand the dangers and fear that Mr. Trump has forced on our communities,” said Brenda Caseres, a team leader in the Anahuak group. “But we must not let him push us into the shadows. We all live together as one community, one city, one state. We all have rights. We all should be accounted for.”
Filling out the census – whether online, in paper or over the phone – is a civic duty. For many, it also amounts to an act of resistance, a declaration that they won’t be bullied.
Following are answers in English and Spanish to frequently asked questions about the 2020 Census.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the census?
The census is a count of every person living in the United States. The census takes place once every 10 years.
¿Qué es el censo?
El censo es cuando contamos a todas las personas que viven en los EE. UU. Se lleva a cabo cada 10 años.
How does it work?
Completing the census form is easy. You will be asked about 10 simple questions, like your age, the number of children living in your household and your marital status.
The U.S. Census Bureau will send you a postcard in the mail instructing you to complete the census online. If you don’t have access to the Internet, you can complete the census by mail or phone. Call 800-923-8282 for assistance.
Completar el censo es facil. Se le harán algunas preguntas simples como su edad, cuantos hijos viven en su hogar y su estado civil. La Oficina del Censo de EE.UU le enviará una tarjeta postal para realizar la encuesta en línea. Si no tiene acceso a Internet, puede completar el censo por correo o por teléfono. Llame al 800-923-8282 para asistencia.
Does the 2020 Census ask about citizenship?
There is NO question on the 2020 Census asking about an individual’s citizenship status. Everyone, regardless of their immigration status, has certain basic rights – and each person counts in the census, citizens and noncitizens.
By filling out the census form online, by phone on by paper, you can avoid potential personal interaction with census takers.
¿El Censo 2020 incluirá preguntas sobre la ciudadanía?
El cuestionario del Censo 2020 NO incluirá una pregunta sobre la condición de ciudadanía de los individuos. Todos, independientemente de su condición migratoria, tienen ciertos derechos básicos – y cada persona cuenta, ciudadanos y no ciudadanos.
Para quienes tienen preocupación en cuanto a abrir la puerta de su casa, usted puede participar en línea o por teléfono o en un centro comunitario de asistencia.
How does my family and my community benefit?
Each person who is counted in the census means more money for your community for the next 10 years. That’s because the census determines how much federal tax revenue flows to your state and locality. With 10 million people living in L.A. County, there is a lot to gain by being counted – and a lot to lose if there’s an undercount.
¿Cómo beneficia a mi familia y a mi comunidad?
Cada person contada en el censo significa mas dinero para su comunidad durante los próximos 10 años beneficiando escuelas, carreteras, hospitales y seguro médico infantil. Participar en el censo significa que esta obteniendo las parte justa del dinero federal de su comunidad. Con 10 milliones de personas viviendo en en condado de Los Angeles, temenos mucho que ganar.
Do children need to be counted?
Yes. All children living in your household regardless of age should be counted.
¿Debo incluir a niños en el formulario del censo?
Si, los niños sin importar su edad deben ser contados. Cada persona cuenta!
Is taking part in the census safe?
Yes. The census is secure and the information you provide is private. It is illegal for anyone to share your information. There are laws to prevent anyone from providing your information to others.
The Census Bureau can use your responses to create a statistical profile of the general population, like how many people live in your city and data about age, gender and race. The Census Bureau cannot share information about you as an individual.
¿Es seguro participar en el censo?
Sí, participar en el censo es seguro y so información es privada. Es illegal que cualquier persona comparta su información. Existen leyes que impiden que su información sea compartida.
La Oficina del Censo solo puede usar sus respuestas para obtener información general acerca de la población, como el número de personas que viven en su ciudad y estadísticas sobre edad, género y raza. La Oficina del Censo no puede compartir información sobre usted como individuo.
Sources: wecountLA.org, californiacensus.org
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