San Diego

Local Groups Hope to Ease Fears Over Census Amid Back and Forth on Citizenship Question

The Trump administration’s back and forth on a possible citizenship question on the 2020 U.S. Census has scared many in local immigrant communities.

Across San Diego County, there are pockets of communities considered hard to count.

"We already anticipate that our job is going to be monumental," said Arcela Nunez-Alvarez from the National Latino Research Center.

Nunez-Alvarez is part of Count Me 2020 – a coalition made up of more than 100 community organizations, including the United Way of San Diego.

Count Me 2020 has partnered with San Diego Association of Governments to help teach people about what the census is.

"I think the census has always had this challenge,” said Darlanne Mulmat, the manager of SANDAG’s Regional Census Data Center. “The response rates have been going down regardless of what the survey is.”

Count Me 2020 and SANDAG received $1.56 million from the state for census outreach in City Heights, Chula Vista, National City, San Marcos, Vista, Escondido and Oceanside.

"These are areas that we already anticipate are going to be challenged, especially around technology access," Nunez-Alvarez told NBC 7.

For the first time, people will receive a postcard with log-in information, so they can complete the census online. However, some worry those in low-income areas won’t have access to the internet.

There is also a concern over immigration status, but small, community groups are hoping to ease those fears.

"These are the organizations that have built trust over many, many years,” said Nunez-Alvarez. “These are the organizations that people go to when they have concerns, when they have questions."

SANDAG is asking for ideas from the public on ways to educate people about the census. Ideas can be emailed to until 5 p.m. on Friday, July 12.

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