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Census Bureau Leans On Latinx Community Partners For Accurate Count In 2020

Cass Herrington
BPR News
Agustin Velasquez, partnership specialist for the Atlanta Regional Census Center, led a discussion for Latinx community partners at the Land of Sky Regional Council Wed.

Organizations that serve the immigrant and Latinx population are being tasked with encouraging their communities to participate in the upcoming 2020 census. The US Census Bureau is turning to these so-called “trusted voices,” in an effort to alleviate fears about how the data will be used. 

Officials with the US Census Bureau are holding workshops across the state designed to help local nonprofits educate their communities about the data-gathering effort. 

“We want to make sure we get representation. We’re not going to get another shot for the next 10 years,” partnership specialist Agustin Velasquez said.

The messaging campaign comes partially in response to the Trump administration’s proposal to add a citizenship question to the census. The Supreme Court rejected that idea in June. Partnership specialist Augustin Velazquez says the Bureau is relying on community partners and trusted voices in immigrant communities to reassure individuals their data is protected by law and is for statistical purposes only.  

Credit Cass Herrington / BPR News
BPR News

“This is an opportunity," Velasquez said. "This is the message that we have to get across to people who have their kids living here, who are born here, they’re not going anywhere.”

It’s about getting the most accurate snapshot of who’s living in Western North Carolina, particularly as the Latinx and Hispanic population continues to grow. 

Velasquez says on April 1 of next year, census gatherers will visit farms, where migrant farmworkers are often living together for a few months out of the year.

Immigrants are among the Census' definition of hard-to-count populations.  Others are areas of high poverty, tribal nations, and rural communities without access to broadband. 

The numbers have a direct economic impact on local communities. A 2017 George Washington University report says North Carolina annually receives more than $1,600 in federal aid per person. The count also has the potential to shift politics. If the next count shows significant population growth, that could mean another elected representative in Congress. 

“We want to make sure we are politically represented in the Congress, and also for the Latinx community, we want to be more included in the system to get our voice out,” Velasquez said. 

Hendersonville-based nonprofit El Centro, was one of the local partners represented during a census workshop this week.

El Centro's Executive Director Sergio Fernandez says they’re planning to offer information sessions to reassure individuals who are undocumented that they’re protected by law. He says the community will also be invited to use El Centro’s space to fill out census surveys, if that makes them feel safer. 

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