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There’s still time to be counted in the 2020 U.S. Census

Last Friday, April 1, was National Census Day. Everyone is required to complete the census, but April 1 isn’t a deadline. If you haven’t yet completed yours, there’s still time! It just takes a few minutes to complete it online.

The census is a once-a-decade undertaking to count every person, regardless of age, nationality or immigration status, who is currently living in the U.S. And with the coronavirus increasing the risk of an undercount, there is more than ever at stake.

“Every person who is counted is another person who helps us get representation in Congress and thousands of dollars in funding for our communities and the programs we rely upon,” UC Riverside student Eric Calderon, who is leading outreach efforts to students on his campus, told the UC Newsroom.

The census affects many things that impact students directly, notes Calderon, from the allocation of federal funding for Pell Grants and work-study to investment in research and labs.

It also affects California’s electoral votes, its number of Congressional seats and how political districts are drawn — as well as funding for school lunches, plans for highways, support for firefighters and families in need, and many other state and community programs.

“This count is the backbone of our democracy,” says Calderon. “How are we going to know, should we build another hospital, should we build another school, should we build a park, unless we know who’s here?”

California has historically been undercounted. But luckily, the census is easier to fill out now than ever. For the first time this year, it’s possible to fill out the census online. Students can also reply by phone or fill out and mail in a paper census, all without challenging social distancing protocol by having a census taker come to their door.

Important facts about the census 

There is no immigration question on the census. Here’s what it asks.

The Trump administration earlier this year tried to include a question about citizenship on the census, but the Supreme Court would not allow it. Opponents said the question was intended to suppress the count of immigrant and undocumented communities.

What is on the census is pretty basic: nine questions, including the name and birthdate of everyone who lives with you, their sex, gender and relationship to you and their race and ethnic background.

Why does the government need to know this?

“To provide and locate services that will effectively serve our residents, we need to know who is here,” says Marlenee Blas Pedral, a faculty member with UC Riverside’s Center for Social Innovation. Understanding the demographics of our communities and of our state helps create a California that works for everyone, she says.

Learn more about the questions and what they’re for.

The census is completely confidential. Your information cannot be used against you

It is illegal for a census taker or anyone affiliated with the census to share your information with any outside entity or to use it for any purpose other than the legally mandated headcount. Census information cannot be shared with law enforcement, immigration authorities, credit agencies or any other person or entity.

Help census takers stay safe by responding now

Sometime later this spring or summer, the Census Bureau will send out census takers to follow up with those who have not been counted or who submitted incomplete forms. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, officials are looking to minimize home visits. You can help California get the safest and most complete count by submitting your responses no later than April 30.

No matter who you are, how old you are or where you come from — you count!

California’s goal is to count every single person residing in this state. That includes newborns and the elderly, international students in the U.S. while they attend school, citizens, immigrants and residents of any status, and individuals both housed and unhoused.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re documented or undocumented. It doesn’t matter what views you have or who you support,” Calderon said. “You are embedded in this nation. This is your chance to be recognized.”


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