State leaders and immigrant advocacy groups are encouraging everyone to fill out the Census, and trying to reassure those that may be concerned about completing it due to their status.
Barbara Lopez is the director of Make the Road Connecticut, an advocacy group that supports immigrants and helps them be active in their communities. Among their initiatives, is convincing some people to participate in the 2020 Census.
“We want to make sure our friends and families are counted and it’s our power and our duty to be counted,” said Lopez.
Lopez explained that some immigrants are apprehensive to fill out the Census. She said a proposed question, asking people if they were citizens, had made some people leery. That question was deemed unconstitutional and will not be on the Census.
“Not only immigrants but people in general became very mistrusting or not to wanting to engage in civic engagement,” added Lopez.
Getting an accurate count though is crucial especially to those who run Connecticut’s cities.
“Our federal funding depends on it,” said New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart. “Our congressional districts depend on it. Our SNAP benefits, WIC. There’s so many things that depend on that financial assistance from the federal government.”
Stewart is urging all people to participate and is also among those trying to ease the fears of immigrants.
“A Census worker can’t report someone if they’re not legal,” said Stewart.
The Census survey will be mailed in March and should be in all homes by April. Trackers will also be knocking on doors this spring and summer, trying to get an accurate count, which Lopez said is very important to ethnic communities.
“If we don’t engage in the conversation we won’t be counted and that will impact how much resources or not resources go into the cities or communities we decide to live in,” she said.
Getting immigrants to participate isn’t the only challenge facing the US Census Bureau. As the Census approaches this spring, there is a shortage of people needed to survey Connecticut’s neighborhoods.
According to data provided by the Census Bureau, the hope is to attract 27,000 applicants to fill 9,000 jobs. Currently they are approximately 11,000 applicants short of their goal. These jobs pay well, up to $25 an hour.
“If you need a part-time gig for a couple of months it’s a great opportunity,” explained Stewart.
To attract people, the Census Bureau has held job fairs around Connecticut with more scheduled later this month. In New Britain, Mayor Stewart is doing her own recruiting through town social media. She said it’s a good opportunity for college students and retirees.
“Even if you’re retired, you can still take the job,” she said. “Even if you work a certain amount of hours it won’t harm your social security benefits that you’re getting. Census jobs are exempt from that.”