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The Census is Near, Here is Why You Should Participate In It

Many of us are too young to remember what the United States Census is, even if we talked about it in our high school government class. Chances are that our parents and grandparents completed this government survey at least 10 years ago! The Census is quickly approaching

 and I think it is important that we all know what it is in order to participate in it to ensure that our communities have the proper tools and resources they need to thrive!

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You have probably seen many advertisements on social media, television, and radio stations that talk about what the Census is and what it does for you and your community. But, I am here to give you a little more information. For starters, the Census IE explains that the Census is a survey that is conducted every ten years with the goal of counting every single person in the United States. It is mandated in the Constitution that this be done and has been designed to count everyone once and in the right place. 

 

This year is the first time that the Census will be available to complete online, you, your parents, or school should receive the form and invitation to complete it online beginning March 12, 2020, and the self-reporting window will close on April 30, 2020. It is to your benefit that you self-report, otherwise the Census Bureau sends enumerators to your home to physically count you and help you fill out the form. Do not worry the survey is easy to fill out and will not take too much time; it is about 10 questions long per each member of the home and asks things regarding race, sex, age, and if you rent or own the home.

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You may be wondering why and how the Census is used. The Census IE site states that the Census is used for three main purposes: representation, federal funding, and data. It is critical that every single person, regardless of citizenship status, is counted in order for the government to make sure that all residents are appointed accurate Congressmembers and House of Representatives. The Census ensures that you are represented not only at the federal level but the state level as well, it helps distribute seats in your state senate and lets people know how to draw district lines based on the number of people living in the area.

 

Federal funding is another vital reason to make sure you are counted in the Census! The data collected allows the Federal government to determine how more than $675 billion of the federal budget is spent and distributed. According to Census IE, in California, a third of the state budget comes from the federal government. This budget helps pay for things like Medi-Cal, public education, housing, infrastructure, and housing assistance programs.

 

Finally, data collected from the Census helps not only the government but businesses, schools, nonprofits, etc. have accurate population data. For example, if a business sees that there is a large population in a specific area and land is available, they can make the choice to open their doors in that area and help provide jobs for a region that is in need of them.

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As you can see, the Census actually plays a significant role in our lives. With the help of data collected from the Census, many of us have access to public schools, public transportation, medical programs, affordable housing programs, prison reentry programs, and much more.

 

There is a common question that comes with the Census, “Is it safe to fill out the Census?” The answer is yes! The Census is completely confidential and your responses are only used to produce statistics. According to Census IE, the government, under Title 13 of the US Code, cannot release your responses to the public, immigration enforcement agencies, law enforcement, or use it to determine if you can receive government benefits. The Census also does not ask about immigration status, therefore, you should feel safe filling it out.

 

Many people do not like to participate in politics or anything government-related. I highly encourage all of you to not only fill out the Census but educate your friends and family about the importance of it. This is only done every ten years meaning that it will impact not only us but the future generations to come as well. By participating in the Census you are helping ensure that we have accurate representation and receive funds that can pay for schools and new roads that will benefit everyone! Therefore, make sure to self-respond on National Census Day, which is April 1, 2020, to help your community obtain the resources it needs to prosper.

Araceli Martinez

UC Riverside '20

Hi, I'm a 4th-year Political Science Major with a minor in Labor Studies. My hope is to create relatable content that will help others feel empowered or that they are not alone.
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