Policy Statement on the 2020 Census

 

The Census in Massachusetts:

Why an Accurate Count Should Matter to Everyone

 

            The Constitution mandates that once every ten years, everyone living in the United States be counted. The idea behind this process is that a State’s power in congress, and the amount of money it receives from the Federal Government, should be proportional to the amount of people living there. As a result, every ten years, the number of Congressmen and Congresswomen per state changes depending on the results of the census. States also use this data to draw school districts and better allocate resources within the state. Even private citizens, like local entrepreneurs, use census data to inform where they should try to build their businesses. Our democracy depends on knowing where its people live so that they can have a voice.

            The Trump Administration is actively intimidating immigrant communities in Massachusetts and in the nation as a whole by including a new question on the Census that asks about citizenship status. In the current political climate, with near-daily stories about the notorious––and occasionally illegal–– practices of President Trump’s ICE agency, immigrant communities would be less likely to respond to a census that asked a question about citizenship. If these communities don’t fill out the census, States with large immigrant populations would be undercounted. Undercounting would result in less representation in Congress and less Federal money allocation than these states deserve. This cannot be allowed to happen to Massachusetts. Josh Zakim has repeatedly spoken out against this xenophobic, scare tactic, and has advocated the representatives of Massachusetts to oppose the citizenship question with any means necessary.

            The Secretary of the Commonwealth can do a great deal to ensure that Massachusetts is properly counted. This is going to be the first census that people can respond to online. The Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth must work diligently to spread the word amongst the citizens of the state. Additionally, the Secretary must build an effective partnership with the local Census Administration to ensure the residency information they have is accurate. To better serve historically undercounted, and thereby underrepresented, communities, the Secretary must deploy a diverse outreach team that has been trained in cultural sensitivity. Most importantly, the Secretary must stand up for our immigrant neighbors whose rights are under assault. Therefore, the Secretary, should explore any legal recourse it can use against the Trump Administration and their ruthless attempt to rob immigrant communities of their voices.