KUNM

Policy Group: Don’t Let Immigration Tactics Deter You From Census

Oct 30, 2019

The 10-year census count will begin next year. But there’s plenty about it that might make some folks nervous in New Mexico. Just last week, the Census Bureau asked the state for access to citizenship data through driver’s license info. The state said no, it wouldn’t turn over the records. A local policy group says these tactics should not stop folks here from participating in the census.

Many states around the country are turning down the bureau’s request for citizenship data—a back-door attempt to get the info after the courts blocked the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 10-year count. But these ongoing efforts are meant to generate fear so people will avoid being counted, said Isaac De Luna from the Center for Civic Policy.

"This is very much an attempt to discourage people of color, immigrants, low-income families from participating," he said, "because this is the way that some people can continue to gain or retain power while others are excluded from the process."

The census is used in drawing maps for political representation, and it’s also part of the calculation for how much federal funding comes to the state for education, Medicaid, food assistance, roads—you name it. For each person who doesn’t get counted, De Luna said, New Mexico loses thousands of federal dollars, and an undercount could cost the state hundreds of millions over the next decade.