Open Letter to the Census Bureau

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Ditas Katague
Director
California Complete Count – U.S. Census
400 R Street, Suite 359
Sacramento, CA 95811

 

Director Katague:

I am writing to express my concerns and disappointment with the Census Bureau’s decision to end the field operation portion of hard-to-count communities by a month sooner than required ending September 30, 2020. It is my understanding that requests to the Trump Administration seeking extensions on reporting deadlines have not been granted and is the rationale behind the decision to end the count early.

This is unacceptable and this letter will serve as my formal complaint on the matter.

The Census Bureau has historically undercounted communities of color resulting in a cycle of bias towards Blacks and Latinos affecting access to quality educational services, limiting economic growth opportunities in the form of small business and entrepreneurial investment, and negatively impacting transportation and affordable housing programs.

The system is flawed and is a detriment to Black and Brown residents most in need of federal funding to enhance our quality of life and fails to reflect a true and accurate count as mandated by the U.S. Constitution.

Add to this the Bureau’s intent to end the count early and the results will be a tragic loss in desperately needed funding with lasting effects on already struggling communities. As it stands, South Los Angeles, an area I represent, which includes a large percentage of Latinos, has been devasted economically due to COVID-19.

The Trump administration’s agenda to scare and threaten the Latino community with divisive and racist memos and unilateral actions aimed at suppressing Latino participation in completing the Census has further hindered local efforts to remedy low response rates.

By its own reporting, the Census Bureau undercounts renters by 1.1 percent while overcounting homeowners by 0.6 percent, which in my district is a sizable misrepresentation. The Census also admits to overcounting non-Hispanic white populations by 0.8 percent and 1.1 percent in 2010 and 2000, respectively, while undercounting the Black population by 2.1 percent and 1.8 percent and Latinos by 1.5 percent and 0.7 percent during the same time periods.

Already at an economic disadvantage due to years of systemic racist policies, the federal government is once again showing its ineptitude and providing a disservice by knowingly undercounting minority groups in 2020.

I have personally provided your office with several measures that would improve outreach efforts to the Black and Latino residents of my district due to the limited ability of person-to-person contact caused by COVID-19. My suggestions have been ignored with no follow up from any member of the California Census Campaign.

People’s lives are dependent upon the funds derived from an accurate and fair count. I see no justification to conclude the most historic Census count in our nation’s history a month early during a pandemic.

I am requesting your office respond to the questions below within 10-days so I may work with local organizations and stakeholder groups in my District to develop meaningful solutions to encourage participation in the Census.

Sincerely,

Honorable Reggie Jones-Sawyer
Assemblymember, 59th District
Chair, Public Safety Committee
Member, Select Committee on the Census