Every person counts

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Emily Corona

Mrs. Quiñonez gets ready to present information about the U.S. 2020 Census to Middle College High school parents.

By Emily Corona, Middle College High School

What is the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau, and why is it so important?

The U.S. Constitution mandates the country to count its population once every 10 years. 

The data gathered influences policy making and the regulation of funding and services for the following 10 years. 

This census will determine how much representation each state has out of the 435 seats in the 2022 U.S. House of Representatives and votes in the U.S. Electoral College for the 2024 presidential election. 

The census population count also determines the amount of funding state governments and local communities receive from the federal government. This provides funding to programs like Medicaid, highway and construction planning, special education grants, National School Lunch Program, Head Start, mental health services, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program(SNAP). 

Arlene Quiñonez, Family and Community Engagement Liaison (F.A.C.E.), is prompting Middle College High School parents and families to participate in the 2020 U.S. Census. 

“It is very important to us because we want all our families, students, population, in Santa Ana to count. A lot of times we have families who don’t fill out the census, and that’s money our city is losing that we could use for resources, building our roads, libraries, many different resources,” she said.

Mrs. Quiñonez speaks on school efforts to spread the word.

 “We are reaching out by having schools host one-a-month meetings on census information where we let families know that the census is safe, why we need to participate, and what it is used for. We let them know the dates and they could get help filling it out here on our school-site, she said.

Mrs. Quiñonez continues to explain reasons why Santa Ana families don’t participate. 

“A couple reasons families don’t complete it is because they believe this information is not confidential and that their status will be out there. But, it is completely confidential,” said Mrs. Quiñonez.

Another common reason is the fear their family’s renting situation will be disclosed. 

“When there are more renters in one home or apartment than is allowed in that space and they may fear that the information will be told to the landlord.”

The Brookings Institution’s analysis of the American Community Survey gives a scenario in which the census count would affect California. 

“If just 15% of the noncitizen population did not respond to the census, California and New York—two big immigrant states—would each lose an additional congressional seat…”

Junior Robert Ayala responded to this analysis.

“I suppose it’s surprising how critical the census is in this case. Regardless of whether the people in these states were citizens or not they still have an impact upon the government. It creates a sense of urgency in the sense that without their population, it isn’t an accurate representation of the states in our government,” says Ayala. 

This shows how prominent the U.S. Census is, especially to areas like Santa Ana that have a lack of family participation and could use more funding. 

Census day is April 1st, the first day you could fill out the census. The last post cards will be mailed out April 20 through April 27. During this time, community members will be going to local homes and encouraging families who haven’t filled it out, to do so. 

Remember you could utilize school and community resources to get assistance with filling out the census. 

Mrs. Quiñonez emphasizes the importance of the U.S. Census in her final message.

“We really are pushing for it because it takes 10 minutes to fill out and will determine the next 10 years of funding we get,” said Quiñonez.

This story was originally published on The Spellbinder on February 12, 2020.