2020 will be an important year for Philadelphia. The U.S. Constitution states that every ten year a census should be performed in order to count the number of people who live in the country to determine congressional composition and to allocate federal funding to city programs in education, health, transportation, employment and housing.
This process is particularly important for Philadelphia, whose Latino community is expanding. According to The Pew Center, 15% of people living in the city were born overseas, of which 33% came from the Americas-mostly Latin American countries- and not including the city’s historic Puerto Rican community, American citizens who have a least one foreign parent, or many undocumented community members who are afraid to participate and therefore are not counted yet.
Consequently, the voice of Latinos in Philadelphia is strong, and it is important to make it heard. One way to do that is by participating in the census. However, that participation could be threatened by disinformation that also generates fear within the community. For example, we have heard that the census is only for American citizens, that nothing happens if one person is not counted, and most importantly, that census information could be shared with the immigration authorities and be used for deportation purposes.
It is very important to clarify that NO, there will not be a question about immigration status in the census, and all data are protected by the U.S Constitution. Only the Census Bureau can access to data for the goals previously stated. Likewise, it is important to mention that the census applies to all people living in the city regardless age, gender, place of birth or immigration status.
According to official data, Philadelphia receives more than 3 billion dollars annually of federal funding to be invested in health, schools and infrastructure, and those resources can be in danger when our community members do not participate in the census. Even one individual’s participation has a big impact.
For every person counted by the census, the city reports to get funding of around $21 thousand dollars for over years. For example, if a Latino family of 5 is not counted, the city will lose over 100 thousand dollars, impacting the public services that we all will get in the next decade. The census is more than counting people; its results are going to determine the future of Philadelphia. All Latinos living in the city must make ourselves counted.
For more information visit: www.census.gov and https://www.phila.gov/programs/philly-counts-2020/
By: Hector Herrada /External Affairs Associate