This month kicks off the 2020 U.S. Census. Every ten years, the U.S. government takes a tally of every person living in the U.S., regardless of citizenship or immigration status.
The Chicago City Council set aside $2.7 million in the 2020 budget for community outreach efforts to reach hard-to-count residents. Hard-to-count residents include immigrants; refugees; those experiencing homelessness; non-English speakers; people with disabilities; and senior citizens.
By April, the Census Bureau plans to send a survey to every U.S. household. Residents will have the option to respond to the census online, by mail or by phone. Census takers will go door-to-door to collect information from residents who do not complete a census form.
Why is the census count important?
Information from the census impacts the daily lives of Chicago residents.
The main purpose of the census is to calculate the number of seats that each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives. The goal is to ensure fair political representation. Census data are also used to inform how much money the federal government will distribute to state and local governments. Allocations fund programs and infrastructure like health, education, housing and infrastructure.
Does the census ask about citizenship?
The Trump administration sought to include an inquiry about a person’s immigration or citizenship status. This effort has sparked concern in immigrant communities. However, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the attempt to include this on the census questionnaire.
Many people are reluctant to fill out the census form and have concerns about confidentiality. However, filling out the census form is not optional. The Constitution requires that every person in the country be counted. Residents can rest assured that federal law prohibits the Census Bureau from releasing any information identifying individuals to the public and other federal agencies.
When people respond to the census, everyone in the community benefits. According to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the city’s goal is to have 75 percent of its residents counted in the 2020 Census.