On May 28, at the request of Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), co-chair of the House Census Caucus, and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, held a field hearing titled “Getting Counted: The Importance of the Census to State and Local Communities” during which experts testified to how census data is used by state and local communities and the efforts of governments, non-profits, and businesses to make sure everyone is counted.
“It is impossible to overstate the importance of getting accurate census data,” said Rep. Maloney. “New Yorkers in every corner of our city and state depend on these numbers, quite literally, for survival. In our state alone, census data drives nearly $73 billion in federal funding per year. On top of that, this data drives businesses of every size for strategic planning like where and even if to open new stores – leading to new jobs and investment in our communities. And, perhaps most importantly, it helps to determine congressional district lines and how the Electoral College is divided. The census forms the foundation of our representative democracy. Messing with this data, and trying to force an undercount of immigrant and minority communities with underfunding and the citizenship question is, frankly, un-American. I thank Chairman Raskin, for responding to my and Rep. Ocasio Cortez’s request for this hearing, because the census is something we simply cannot afford to get wrong.”
“Today’s hearing proved that we must do all we can to get an accurate and honest count of our communities in the 2020 Census. As one of the cornerstones of our democracy, the census must be protected,” said Rep. Ocasio- Cortez. “The Trump administration is attempting to silence the voices of our constituents. We must not allow this to happen. The census is an accounting of our diversity, our strength, and our needs – we must protect its purpose.”
“It is critical that everyone is counted in the census to ensure that all communities are fairly represented and receive the resources they need,” said Chairman Cummings. “I thank Congresswomen Maloney and Ocasio-Cortez for requesting today’s field hearing, and I thank Chairman Raskin for leading this hearing. We need to make sure we are tracking progress as we prepare for the 2020 Census, addressing problems effectively and efficiently, and working to reach hard-to-count populations. Today’s hearing gets us closer to that shared goal.”
“Since 1790, the decennial census has been a fundamental precondition of American political democracy. I am thrilled to know that local and state governments and officials across the land are standing up to do public education about the importance of being counted and to demand a fair census,” said Rep. Raskin. “We need this activism in every community as the Trump administration tries to impose a citizenship question to spread fear in immigrant neighborhoods and drags its feet on implementing the mechanics of a successful census. From the standpoint of strong American democracy, the 2020 census is as important as the 2020 election. I want to salute my colleagues Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for their great initiative and leadership.”
Trump Administration’s 2020 Census ‘Sabotage’
On May 31, Congresswoman Maloney gathered with census experts and community advocates in response to the revelation of documents: (www.nytimes.com/2019/05/30/us/census-citizenship-question-hofeller.html) “showing that a Republican gerrymandering expert (the late Thomas Hofeller) was the driving force behind the Trump administration’s unconstitutional attempt to add a citizenship question to the 2020 decennial census,” she said. The coalition of census advocates called for increased federal resources and state funding in the communities the Trump administration “aims to undercount. Our democracy depends on a full and accurate count of our nation’s residents and the Trump administration cannot be allowed to compromise that,” Maloney stressed.
“These documents are not just a smoking gun – they are a written confession of the Trump administration’s illegal attempt to hijack the 2020 census and remake the political landscape of this country in their image for the next decade,” said Rep. Maloney. “But, this is not Trump’s census to hijack. It is our census, because all of us, in every corner of this nation, urban and rural, rely on accurate census data for our rights and well-being, and we cannot afford to get it wrong. That is why we, the people, will take back our census and do the work on the ground, in our communities, to ensure every single person is engaged and counted accurately and fairly. I will work to make sure that our communities have the tools and resources we need to get this right.”
“Yesterday’s revelations confirmed our worst nightmares: that GOP political operatives in conjunction with the Trump administration plotted for years to rig our democracy with a census citizenship question. If Donald Trump plans to stand in the way of a complete count, it’s more important than ever that New York City and state fully fund census efforts to ensure everyone gets counted,” said NYC Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, co-chair of the Council’s 2020 Census Task Force.
“The recent revelations of the citizenship question’s origins make clear what many of us long suspected – that it is simply an underhanded attempt to redraw electoral lines and shift political power towards Republicans. This revelation makes it even more clear that we must redouble our efforts to ensure a full and accurate count, especially here in New York City. Critical to this is robust funding for community-based organizations; we must fully fund CBOs who are key to reaching the communities who are meant to be stripped of their power by this decision. But we will not let this happen, and we stand committed to fighting and making sure that all New Yorkers are counted,” said New York City Council Member Carlos Menchaca, co-chair of the Council 2020 Census Task Force.
“With the mayor’s unprecedented $26 million investment in public engagement and awareness for the 2020 Census, we will ensure that all New Yorkers, no matter where they’re from or where in the city they live, are counted,” said Julie Menin, director of NYC Census 2020 and executive assistant corporation counsel, New York City Law Department.
“The figures coming out of this situation will put gerrymandering on steroids. If allowed to stand, this question will promote deportation of non-citizens, demote the political voices of citizens who remain, and distort the distribution of federal funds for health, education, and election results at various levels of our constitutional system,” said Alvin Ponder, MD, vice president of the New York City Chapter of the National Action Network.
Data from the decennial census helps to determine the distribution of federal funds, including $73 billion to New York state. This funding supports programs like Medicare and Medicaid, school lunch vouchers, the children’s health insurance program and heating assistance in the winter. States and cities like New York also use Census data for nearly every planning decision they make, like projecting student populations and designing transportation routes. Census numbers also determine how many electoral votes and seats in the House of Representatives each state is allotted.
Similar sentiments were echoed by Melva Miller, executive vice president of the ABNY’s census effort; Amy Torres, director of policy and advocacy at the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC); Thomas Yu, co-executive director of Asian Americans for Equality; Lurie Daniel Favors, general counsel at the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College; Jorge Luis Vasquez Jr., associate counsel at Latino Justice PRLDEF; and Elizabeth R. OuYang, civil rights attorney, educator, and community advocate.