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SCOTUS Decision To End Census Count Early Could Hurt Local Hard-To-Count Communities

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NBC 7’s Omari Fleming has the details.

Community Leaders Believe The Decision Is Politically Motivated

Community leaders are concerned the Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday siding with the Trump Administration to end 2020 Census counting early is nothing more than politics that will hit hard-to-count communities the worst.

Census data is used to determine federal funding and political representation over the next 10 years.

“From the beginning we have fought an uphill battle because of the many barriers to participation put in place by this administration,” said Ramla Sahid, Executive Director of Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA). “An example of that is the calculated effort to undermine the county by pushing the citizenship question.”

Sahid’s sentiment is echoed by Roberto Alcantar with the Chicano Federation. 

“We know the political games behind this. It’s about allocation of congressional seats and an administration that wants a say in that before they lose power,” explained Alcantar. 

Both Alcantar and Sahid are deeply concerned about the people they help being undercounted, which could result in a lack of federal funds for programs to help the community they serve. They’ve been working in the San Diego community using phone banks and community events to get people to fill out their census forms.

Both Alcantar and Sahid are deeply concerned about the people they help being undercounted, which could result in a lack of federal funds for programs to help the community they serve. They’ve been working in the San Diego community using phone banks and community events to get people to fill out their census forms.

Each person who’s counted by the census brings in another $1,250 in resources to California. But census data for San Diego County shows multiple communities with low response rates, which means fewer federal funds for some rural and minority communities that can be harder to count.

“We've seen the lack of resources affect housing in those communities. We've seen it affect access to medical facilities and medical treatment. We've seen it affect the quality of education and the funding that goes to education in these communities. That all puts our communities at a higher risk of COVID-19,” said Alcantar.

Cutting the count short after it was paused because of the pandemic is something Michele Silverthorn is concerned about. As the project lead for Count Me 2020, her organization was focused on an accurate count for San Diego and Imperial counties.

After a Supreme Court decision sided with the Trump administration, the 2020 Census county is ending early this year. NBC 7’s Steven Luke has details on what that means for you.

“My understanding is that 99% of that workload where the census takers went out into the community is complete. And if you look at data you can see that we do not have 100% on self-response, so it's clear that not everyone has been counted,” said Silverthorn. 

The Census Bureau said it wanted to stop the count so that it could start processing the data in order to meet a Dec. 31 deadline which is a federal law. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the government to continue field work until Oct. 31., saying the time was needed to make sure the count is accurate.