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“WE’RE LIVING THE UNDERCOUNT” – 2020 CENSUS LAYS GROUNDWORK FOR BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE, TEXAS ADVOCATES SAY

by Khalil Abdullah
5/28/2020



From left to right: Dr. Lila Valencia (Texas Demographic Center), Ray Shackelford (Houston Area Urban League), Chris Valdez (Houston in Action)

Fiercely committed to a complete count of Texas residents for Census 2020, advocates across ethnic groups are re-thinking tactics and strategies of how to increase self-response rates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We all know that we are in a really difficult time right now with COVID-19,” acknowledged Katie Martin Lightfoot, community engagement coordinator for the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin. “Many of the resources that working folks and families across our state are relying on now to survive are determined by census data.”

In a virtual forum hosted by Ethnic Media Services for media and census advocates, speakers underscored the struggle between bringing the urgency of the census message home to people while still keeping a distance. “Our main challenge in getting everyone to fill out the census is that we’re missing that human touch,” conceded Paulina Lopez, a Census Bureau senior partnership specialist responsible for the state’s 35 southernmost, heavily Latino counties.  “We’re not giving up,” she said emphatically.

“No more door knocking?” questioned Nestor Lopez, an economic development analyst at the Hidalgo County Judge’s office. As an alternative, “we installed loudspeakers on our cars,” he said. Lopez helps oversee census outreach in the largely rural communities along the border, a region where cell phones have limited reception and Internet access ranges from unreliable to non-existent. Filling out the census on-line is rarely an option, Lopez noted. 

Tenacity and ingenuity may still triumph over current circumstances, if these and other strategies listed by speakers prevail. If they do not, the alternative is grim. “If a baby is born and is not counted,” said Dr. Sylvia Acosta, CEO of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region, “we will not have resources for that baby until they’re 10 and how are communities going to survive that?” 

Paulina Lopez, also a member of Acosta’s YWCA board, described one successful outreach initiative.  With a $1,000 reward in the balance, a contest was launched to see which of two competing schools could turn in the most completed census forms from their respective school’s parents. “With this initiative we were able to complete 130 questionnaires,” Lopez said, stressing that the goal is not just outreach but measurable participation and results.

Ray Shackelford, National President of the Young Professionals of the National Urban League which targets hard-to-count urban neighborhoods, described efforts to harness  the mass appeal of Instagram-live events. Hosted by d-jays with countrywide followings, this digital platform has propelled successful National Urban League registration campaigns and is a template the League plans to use to educate younger African Americans about the census. Shackelford said the hope is that the younger cohort will influence peers and elders.

The Texan African American community continues to expand with the addition of African and Caribbean immigrants and intermarriages. If there is any advantage within this universe of prospective census respondees, it is general familiarity with English, an asset not shared by the Asian American community.

“There's about 1.7 million Asian Americans living here in Texas,” said Nabila Mansoor, census director of the Empowering Communities Initiative, “and we have been under counted for decades.” Not only do Asian Americans live in Hard to Count census tracts, she reported, but the language barrier compounds the difficulty of garnering high census response rates. Her messaging emphasizes the link between accurate census data and funding for health care.   “Some 163,000 Asian Americans have no access to health care in Texas,” she noted.

Even before the pandemic, the odds were high against an accurate count. Dr. Lila Valencia, Senior Demographer for the Texas Demographic Center in Houston, noted that Texas is second only to Alaska in size and second only to California in total population

As of late May, the Texas self-response rate was just under the national average of 55 percent, but it is the hard to count tracts, urban as well as rural, that keep advocates up at night. In the 2010 census, a quarter of a million Texas residents were uncounted. A mere one percent undercount in 2020 could cause Texas to lose $300 million per year until 2030.

Though non-Hispanic whites are still the state’s largest ethnic group, Valencia noted that close to 90 percent of the new population added since 2010 has come from non-White ethnic groups – with Latinx presence accounting for over half of that number, and Asian Americans representing the fastest growing group.

Nina Perales, Vice President of Litigation for MALDEF based in San Antonio, has worked to reform the state’s redistricting process for two decades. Even if an accurate count is achieved, she warns, there’s the danger that it won’t translate into political representation.

Every 10 years, each state’s congressional and other districts are redrawn by its respective state legislature after receiving the newly collected census information. “In every cycle of redistricting, Texas has been found by the courts or the Justice Department to have discriminated against Latino voters,” Perales explained. 

Even under the best of circumstances, the timeline for the Texas legislature to handle redistricting is brief. This year because of the pandemic, census data will not be released until April 2021, affording the Texas legislature only a month to redraw lines unless it convenes a special session for that purpose.

For Perales, a bigger concern is the Trump administration’s effort to collect citizenship data through the census and ultimately have the citizenship population be the sole demographic criteria used to draw up congressional districts. Citizenship only representation is already a stated goal of the Texas Republican Party platform. Should that occur, simply being a resident of Texas, rather than a citizen, would have no representational weight. 

Panelists concurred that loss of political representation would not bode well. They view getting an accurate count as tantamount to laying the groundwork for a better quality of life.

Juanita Valdez-Cox, executive director of LUPE (La Union del Pueblo Entero) for over 20 years, described what failure to raise the response rate would mean for the colonias (unincorporated communities) of the Rio Grande: “Our schools are going to continue to be underfunded, our roads will continue to deteriorate, public funding for health care will dry up. An undercount will take congressional and state legislative seats from or area.” 

“We live the consequences of an undercount,” Valdez-Cox said, summarizing the sentiment of conference speakers. “The census staff suspended its work because of concerns about the virus. We didn’t close down. We just started working from our homes.”


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本目录中最多阅览的文章

朱易 : 马鞍峰教会的增长及其深远影响 (1) 
许多前来参加每年一次牧师研讨会的牧师感到(2003年人数达到二十五万之多),他们正经历著一场由华理克牧师主导的改革运动,他们好像又回到了激动人心的马丁路德改教运动的时代,不同的是他们可以与领导今天这场改革的领袖相遇和交谈。

华理克牧师认为马丁路德时代的改革是让教会清楚教会所相信的是什么,这也是我们今天还在传讲的信息和教义,而今天的改革是让教会清楚教会要做什么


第二次宗教改革的呼声 
新兴教会的运动是教会的第二次宗教改革, 它将彻底改写教会历史, 并开创全新的教会时代.

朱易 : 马鞍峰教会的增长模式和教会市场法的危机 (1) 
除了“目标导向”的增长公式,许多牧师认为华理克牧师还有增长的秘诀,但华理克牧师认为他的增长策略其实是十分简单,归纳起来只有三条.

不少学者持怀疑的态度, 他们认为“目标导向”不过是将传统的基督教原则作了不同的包装。




《断背山》风头正健,价值观江河日下 (1) 
对基督徒而言,这部影片只不过是一个用艺术包装起来的同性恋合理的说教。但这一次,基督徒却无法用忽略它的存在的方式来反击它,他们必须寻找新的方法来坚守传统的战线。


朱易: 他的正面思维影响了全世界 (1) 
但是斯凯勒在教会界配受尊重,除了他在教堂的建造上独树一帜外,他的人品和神学上也颇为出色。他是少数几个没有丑闻的电视布道家之一,而让他成为非主流教会和许多基督徒仿效的对象的原因是,他的讲道着重正面信息,用正面思维看问题。


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