Trump’s hard line on immigration could threaten the accuracy of the census

The Venture

Trump still hasn't named a Director for the census and the funding for 2020 is set to be less than 2010 when Latinos were undercounted. I know there's a lot going on, but this is urgent.

The Trump administration has used the most of its federal authority to crack down on immigrants in the United States. But when it comes to the 2020 census, it will also be tasked with counting them.

Trump still has to name a director for the Census Bureau, and Congress has set a funding cap for the 2020 census that is certain to be inadequate. With leadership and budget woes, there is concern as to how the Bureau will accurately count vulnerable populations — especially communities that include undocumented immigrants.

To understand how the Trump administration’s priorities might affect undocumented Latino immigrants, and in some cases even documented citizens who live with undocumented individuals, I turned to Arturo Vargas, a member of the Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations. He is also the executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials Educational Fund.

“For immigrants, there’s always been a fear that data could be shared with the immigration enforcement arms of the federal government,” Vargas says.

He said Latino Americans face all sorts of threats from a president openly hostile to them, and advocates are concerned that inadequate attention to the census could hurt Latinos even more.

“It’s often the communities who are most likely to be missed or undercounted in the census that miss out on the resources of which they are most in need,” Vargas says. “Assuring these families that their census data is going to be safe and confidential is going to be a particular challenge for the 2020 census.”

I interviewed Vargas to ask him about the leadership, funding, outreach, and accuracy challenges the Census Bureau is facing — and what it could mean for the 2020 census and for vulnerable populations in the US.

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