With the Census in Peril, What Will It Take to ‘Right the Ship?’

August 31, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

New America Media – The 2020 Census is off to a rocky start, with crucial preparations already delayed or falling to the wayside, largely a result of inadequate funding from Congress.

Some of the nation’s oldest civil rights organizations, while fearing the worst, say there’s still time for Congress and the Trump administration to turn things around – but the window is “closing fast,” according to Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“We’re increasingly worried that the Administration and Congress have not prioritized support for a fair and accurate census, and that ill-advised decisions in the next few months will further erode the chance [for success],” Gupta said on a nationwide press call for ethnic media.

“There’s really too much at stake to ignore the growing threat to a successful census,” she says. “Being undercounted in the census deprives already vulnerable communities of fair representation and vital public and private resources … The health and well-being as well as the political power of all the diverse communities in America rest on a fair and accurate count.”

The consequences of a botched census would ripple across the country, affecting everything from funding levels in education and health care, to redistricting and the implementation of the Voting Rights Act. Data from the census is used to allocate resources for all kinds of services nationwide, from hospitals to transportation.ORcensus_500x279

“A good census is a sound investment in everything we hold dear in this country – a representative democracy, government and elected officials that are accountable to the people, and business and industry investment to drive economic growth, good jobs, and innovation,” says Terri Ann Lowenthal, former staff director of the House Census and Population Subcommittee, and now a consultant to the Leadership Conference Education Fund.

Lowenthal says that the 2020 Census is facing a “confluence of unprecedented factors” amounting to “a perfect storm.” The Census Bureau’s prior director, John Thompson, resigned in May of this year, and the agency is “facing a leadership vacuum at a time when it is faced with critical decisions” on its methods and use of resources, according to Gupta.

In addition to the nomination of a “qualified, non-partisan candidate to lead the Census Bureau,” Gupta says the agency is in dire need of more adequate funding.

Lowenthal says that funding for the 2020 Census has been so far “insufficient, uncertain and frequently late.” Following the 2010 Census, Congress for the first time set a cap on census costs. The Census Bureau was directed to spend no more on the 2020 Census than it did on the 2010 Census; following that, says Lowenthal, Congress “shortchanged the census in annual funding bills throughout much of this decade.” Lawmakers later decided that the 2020 Census would in fact receive less funding than the 2010 Census.

Congress failed to allocate sufficient funds in 2017, according to Lowenthal, and now the Trump administration has requested far less funding in 2018 than the Census Bureau needs, she says. As things stand now, there will be fewer than half as many temporary census takers in the 2020 Census as there were in 2010.

“The window of opportunity to right this ship is closing fast,” says Lowenthal. But, she says, “Congress can demonstrate leadership by adjusting the budget cuts upward in advance starting this fall for the next three years.”

The lack of adequate funding has already had real consequences, says Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund.

The Census Bureau failed to complete a Spanish-language test census that was planned for Puerto Rico, and is also failing to test and implement methods for more accurately counting people in remote and rural areas.

The agency also won’t be testing certain local outreach and messaging strategies to get people to complete their census forms, Vargas says.

Outreach strategies have become more crucial among some marginalized communities. “We know that there is increasingly a climate of fear among immigrant communities and immigrant households,” he says, due to the current political atmosphere and an uptick in anti-immigrant rhetoric under the Trump administration.

“We have seen immigrant families opting out of participating in programs in which they have any kind of contact with government, including health care programs and school lunch programs,” says Vargas.

“As a result we believe it will be even more difficult to encourage these immigrant populations to participate” in the census.

Indeed, it’s groups like “people of color, low-income families, people with disabilities, and limited English proficient individuals” who would be most affected by an inadequately funded census, according to John C. Yang, the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice. “Any gap in testing and any gap in discovering deficiencies” in methodology, he says, would have the greatest impact on these communities.

‘There are no Do-Overs’ – Advocates Sound Alarm on 2020 Census

April 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

New America Media – With the 2020 Census three years out, civil rights groups and census experts are sounding the alarm that pending actions by the Trump administration and Congress could severely hamper an accurate count of all communities.

“Congress’ failure over the past few years to pay for rigorous 2020 Census planning, and now the Trump Administration’s insufficient budget request for 2018, will strike at the heart of operations specifically designed to make the census better in historically undercounted communities,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, former staff director with the House Subcommittee on Census and Population.

She spoke during a national press call hosted by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. The call was moderated by Wade Henderson, president and CEO of Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

“The decennial census is by far the most important and critical tool in our country to ensure that diverse communities are equitably served with government resources and that the American people are adequately represented at all levels of government,” said Henderson. “The census is required by the U.S. Constitution and policymakers are responsible for making sure the job gets done right. All of us must insist that they do that because there are no do-overs.”

Currently the Census Bureau is being funded at 2016 levels, as Congress has not approved final spending bills for 2017. The bureau has requested a 25 percent “ramp up” for preparation activities. But President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal recommends keeping funding levels where they are currently, $1.5 billion.

Census advocates say this is a crucial time for laying the groundwork and are calling for Congress to reject the administration’s budget proposal in favor of one that covers all preparation activities.


A ‘Major Civil Rights Issue’


Recently, the U.S. Government Accountability office deemed the 2020 Census a “high risk federal program,” in part because the U.S. Census Bureau is planning to utilize several never-before used strategies – such as collecting responses over the internet – but may not have the time and resources to adequately develop and test them.

Budget limitations have already hindered major preparations, including the cancellation of tests of new methods in Puerto Rico and on two American Indian reservations, and resulted in mailed tests rather than electronic or in-person ones, as well as delayed community outreach and advertising campaigns.

Advocates say current funding shortfalls will result in many people – particularly black, Latino and rural households, and families with young children – being missed by the count. Arturo Vargas is the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund. He calls the underfunding of the census a major civil rights issue for Latinos and

other communities of color.

“A successful 2020 Census is not possible if Latinos are not accurately counted,” Vargas said.

Millions of Latinos, the second largest ethnic group in the U.S., were missed in the 2010 census, including 400,000 children under four, according to Vargas.

For each uncounted person, state governments and communities lose thousands of federal aid dollars, which go to anti-poverty programs, education, infrastructure, emergency services, healthcare and other programs.

An undercount can also trigger changes in political representation – from redrawn district lines, to fewer seats in local, state and federal offices, often diminishing the power of communities of color.

Advocates say that new cost-saving strategies like collecting responses over the internet rather than paper forms require investments on the front end. Delayed preparations cannot be made up later. Surveys administered online may also be hampered by the “digital divide” if adequate field tests are not taken.

Lack of access to broadband and the internet may make it “more challenging to [reach] those historically left out of the census in the first place,” Vargas warns.


The ‘First High Tech Census’

The first “high tech” census also opens the door to cyber security concerns, which have been exacerbated of late by evidence of foreign attacks on the 2016 presidential elections. Such concerns could make Americans even more hesitant to participate.

Lowenthal says she and other advocates must be prepared for a “wild card” event, such as President Trump publically questioning the importance of the census via social media.

“One errant tweet could shake public confidence and in the process depress participation and undermine faith in the results, conceivably all the way to the halls of Congress,” Lowenthal said.

Census advocates are eyeing several other threats to the decennial count and its yearly counterpart, the American Community Survey. The ACS is sent yearly to about 1 in 38 households to collect demographic data on everything from employment and home-ownership to educational attainment.

Republicans in Congress are pushing to make participation in the ACS voluntary which could severely damage the data, says John C. Yang, president and executive director of the non-profit advocacy group Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

“The ACS updates the Census throughout the decade. As such it is required by law and must remain so to provide the vital info needed from our communities,” Yang said, emphasizing that the ACS is the only source for detailed data of ethnic subgroups, such as Vietnamese of Chinese descent.

Census advocates are also on high alert because an unsigned leaked executive order, titled “Protecting American Workers from Immigrant Labor,” referenced a directive to the Census Bureau to collect data on immigration status.

Advocates are alarmed by the intentions behind this unsigned order.

“Latinos and other immigrant families are keenly aware of heightened immigrant enforcement actions in their communities, and this may increase distrust in contact with public agencies including the Census Bureau,” Vargas said.

Condado Angelino Continua Siendo el Más Poblado en California

December 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

La población del Condado de Los Ángeles creció por más de 43,700 entre julio del 2015 y julio de 2016, el mayor incremento de cualquier condado en el estado durante ese tiempo, para una población total de más de 10,229 millones, según un informe del Departamento de Finanzas del estado publicado el 19 de diciembre.

El Condado de Orange creció por más de 20,100 durante el mismo período, el cuarto más en el estado. Las estimaciones de población para los 58 condados y el estado en su conjunto fueron publicados por el Departamento de Finanzas.

Con un 25.99 por ciento de la población del estado, el Condado de Los Ángeles permaneció por mucho el más poblado, con el Condado de San Diego entrando en segundo lugar con más de 3.3 millones y el 8.39% de la población y el Condado de Orange como tercero con más de 3,181 millones y un 8.08 por ciento de la población del estado.

Aunque su crecimiento total de la población era el más alto, la tasa de crecimiento del Condado de Los Ángeles fue promedio, ya que su aumento de 0.43 por ciento fue 36 entre los 58 condados del estado.

El aumento del 0.64 por ciento del Condado de Orange fue el 26 más alto. El Condado de Yolo experimentó el mayor cambio porcentual con un aumento del 1.97 por ciento.

El Condado de Los Ángeles tuvo más de 122,500 nacimientos y 63,400 nacimientos durante el año, con una pérdida neta de más de 15.300 a la migración. Los números incluyen estimaciones sobre inmigración y migración indocumentadas.    El Condado de Orange tuvo más de 37.200 nacimientos y 19.700 muertes, con una ganancia neta de más de 2.500 debido a la migración.    Durante el año, la población en todo el estado también creció alrededor de 39.35 millones.

El departamento también informó que la tasa de natalidad de California cayó al 12.4 por 1.000 personas, el más bajo en la historia del estado. La tasa de mortalidad aumentó a 6.7 por 1.000 debido al envejecimiento de la población de los “baby boomers”.

Las estimaciones de población se desarrollan utilizando datos de una variedad de fuentes, Incluidos los conteos de nacimientos y muertes proporcionados por el Departamento de Salud Pública; Número de licencias de conducir y cambios de dirección de la licencia Departamento de vehículos motorizados; Datos de la unidad de vivienda de los gobiernos locales; Colegio de Datos de inscripción del Departamento de Educación; por la declaración de impuestos federales y Datos del Servicio de Rentas Internas, según el Departamento de Finanzas.

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