The U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be taken every 10 years to count all people—both citizens and non-citizens—living in the United States. Participating in the census is in everyone's best interest, because the information on the forms is used by decision-makers to determine which communities, schools, hospitals and roads receive federal funding.
The 2020 Census will serve as the basis for the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal spending on schools, transportation, emergency services, new roads, and public benefits like Medicaid and Medicare programs, SNAP, and the National School Lunch Program. Businesses use census data to determine where to invest with new stores, researchers rely on census data to better understand our population, and the data collected is even used to determine how we are represented in Congress! This is why it is so important to include all persons living in a home, including babies and children, relatives and non-relatives—everyone.
We understand the concerns some people, especially undocumented folks, have about participating or opening their doors to unknown persons. It’s important to know that there are laws in place to protect your privacy. Individual level data is protected for 72 years—only the combined data of large areas is made public beginning the year after the census is completed. Census takers are required to clearly identify themselves and can only ask you official Census questions. Your responses cannot be used against you and can only be used to produce statistics. The Census Bureau is prohibited from using your responses in any way that could identify you or your household or sharing your information with another government agency, including ICE, the FBI, or the IRS.
As for the process in 2020, the United States Census Bureau will be sending letters to each household in March with an invitation to complete the census online using a unique code. Some households will receive the full census form as well. These forms contain nine questions that are very simple and easy to answer: name, age, race, ethnicity, how many people live in the home, how they are related to each other, and whether they own or rent the home. It is not mandatory to complete all the fields of the census form; for instance, if someone in the household is reluctant to share their name on the form, it is fine to write “Person 1” instead. Census forms can be answered by phone, online or through the mail.
Household responses must be received by April 1. After that, census representatives called enumerators will visit the home of anyone who has not responded. These visits will happen between the months of May and July. The final results of the Census 2020 will be available in April 2021.
CLUES is hosting events in March and April in the Twin Cities to share information and help people fill out their census forms. The meetings are free and open to the public and will include legal and census experts to answer any questions you have. Please join us and ensure you are counted!
Participate in the 2020 Census to help ensure that our community is accurately represented and that funding and resources are fairly distributed.