Demanding Funds for NY’s 2020 Census Count

Steve Choi, from the NYIC, wants more funding allocated to promoting the 2020 Census. (Photo via El Diario)

On Tuesday, leaders from a broad coalition of community-based organizations and elected officials insisted on the importance of taking an accurate count of the population of New York State in the 2020 Census. They urged both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio to guarantee the funding needed to promote the campaign, which will seek to ensure that immigrants are not excluded.

During a demonstration held on the steps of City Hall, advocates asked the governor to invest an additional $20 million and the mayor to approve $40 million to cover the outreach efforts that will make it possible for all communities to be included in the 2020 Census.

The governor and the legislature approved a $20-million investment in the state’s budget for fiscal year 2019-2020. That is half of what experts determined was required in order to have an accurate count.

The demonstration in New York took place while the Supreme Court held a hearing in Washington to listen to the arguments in the case Department of Commerce, et. al. v. State of New York, et. al.  The case will decide whether the Trump Administration may include a question about citizenship in the census.

At the press conference, activists and elected officials stressed that the question about citizenship the president is promoting is a true threat, as it could mean losing two seats in Congress and billions of dollars in federal funding for New York.

Councilman Carlos Menchaca, chair of the City Council’s Committee on Immigration, said that, regardless of what the Supreme Court decides, the impact of the proposal is already being noticed across the country, particularly in New York City.

“After a year of speaking out about how damaging this question would be and two years of ICE raids, family separations and intense deportations, we need a solid operation to count New Yorkers. All we need is the funding. I am asking the city and the state to invest the maximum amount possible to guarantee that we can have that right,” said Menchaca, who is also co-chair of the Council’s 2020 Census Taskforce.

(…) “California has already assigned more than $100 million to promote the census as a way to safeguard federal funding and political power. That is why the New York Counts 2020 Coalition has asked the state to add $20 million more in state funds and the city to assign at least $40 million so that we can prevent the loss of billions of dollars in federal funding and two seats in Congress,” said Steve Choi, from the New York Immigration Coalition.

“The census is an opportunity for everyone in the country to be counted, and for the communities to receive necessary services. Adding the question about citizenship will intimidate immigrant communities into not taking part,” said María Lizardo, from the Management Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC.)

(…) Rawaa Nancy Albilal, president of the Arab-American Family Support Center, said that the organization is committed to working towards the accuracy of the 2020 Census.

“Arab communities, Middle-Eastern, North African, South Asian and other marginalized communities cannot afford to lose already limited resources. As an entity that intimately understands the breadth of the needs of the community, this concerns us deeply,” said Albilal.

(…) “We want to congratulate the New York City Council for the $40 million it has proposed to finance the census, and we urge the mayor to support the request. These funds will be used to guarantee that the most vulnerable communities will be counted adequately,” said Rachel Bloom, director of organization Citizens Union.

(…) “We have opposed the question in the census from the beginning, and we reject any effort aimed at circumventing the Constitution of the United States. As a nation, we are obliged to count every person living in the country at the moment of the census,” said L. Joy Williams, president of the NAACP branch in Brooklyn.

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