THE 2020 United States census survey is one year away, and Los Angeles County officials are working to ensure that all populations within the vast county are counted and included in the conversation.
More than 100 community leaders, union members and government officials rallied in Grand Park on Monday, April 1 to join LA County Supervisors Hilda Solis and Mark Ridley-Thomas in a countdown to and call to action for the decennial population count next year.
“Today was a clear demonstration that LA County will work with our municipal and community partners to support our vulnerable communities,” Solis said at the DTLA rally Monday morning. “We embrace LA County’s diversity and we will make every effort to count every resident.”
LA County is home to an incredibly diverse 10 million residents and is one of the most difficult counties to tally and compute in the nation. County and local officials emphasized their dedication to reaching out to populations that have been historically difficult to reach, including the undocumented immigrant community.
The vast reach of LA County — which spans from the coast of San Pedro, the suburbs of the San Gabriel Valley to the desert region of Palmdale and Lancaster — and includes wide swaths of undocumented immigrants who may not feel inclined to participate in the census this time around.
The Census count, which has taken place every 10 years since 1790, in 2020 will be the first one to allow all households to submit their survey online. Paper forms will still be available, and census surveyors will make in-person visits to those who live in remote areas that are hard to reach via the Internet and postage.
The Census Bureau’s survey seeks to count every single person living in the United States regardless of immigration or citizenship status, and each resident is counted by the address where they live. The 2020 census will ask many of the same questions of census forms past, including:
• The number of people living in a home on April 1, 2020
• If the home is owned (with or without a mortgage) or rented
• A phone number from at least one resident of the home
• The names, sex, age, birthdate and race of each person in the home
• The relations of those living in the home
New additions include a write-in area under race where residents can specify their primary racial and ethnic identity. There is also a new option that allows couples to specify whether they are “opposite-sex” or “same-sex.”
Last year, the Trump administration proposed including a question about citizenship on the census survey, which had never been asked before. Solis acknowledged that the citizenship question could make swaths of the county’s 3.5 million immigrants from partaking in the survey, but emphasized that census information is confidential and that it “doesn’t matter where you were born.”
As of press time, the citizenship question is still pending after two federal judges blocked the plans from going forth, but the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case later this month to determine the question’s placement.
Solis also pointed out that the introduction of electronic surveying may establish another barrier for low-income families who don’t have internet access, families who are primarily people of color.
“Los Angeles is a city where everybody counts — and we’ll work hard to make sure everyone is counted in 2020,” LA Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “Today is about standing together to reaffirm that promise, and modeling a path that can be followed by cities and counties across America.”
Other than providing necessary demographic information, the Census also affects federal funding. Nearly $800 billion federal tax dollars are on the line, as are political redistricting and a rearrangement of the number of seats for each state in the U.S. House of Representatives. (A state’s headcount affects the number of seats in the House.)
That federal funding provides public health care, food assistance, affordable housing and other public assistance programs that many Angelenos rely on, Ridley-Thomas said.
“The 2020 census will significantly impact how the federal government allocates funding and resources,” Ridley-Thomas explained. “We are raising awareness a full year in advance of the 2020 census launch to ensure that Angelenos are fairly represented in the final census count.”
For more information about the 2020 Census, visit www.census.gov. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)