Three weeks out from “door knockers” being dispatched, the Bay Area is outpacing the country in responding to the delayed COVID-19 Census. Yet Trump still hopes to whittle our numbers.
Census-takers, or “enumerators” as they prefer to be called, do not knock on every single door in the United States. They knock on fewer than half, that is to say, only those households which did not return their mailed Census forms (or fill them in online) in this every-ten-year U.S. population count. The project is known as the Nonresponse Follow-up Operation, and according to the latest federal numbers, the national 2020 Census response rate is currently 62.3 percent. The state of California comes in just a notch higher with a 63.5 percent completion rate, but KPIX reports that the Bay Area is outpacing California and the whole country significantly, with a current 2020 U.S. Census self-response rate of just over 69 percent (nice).
This is of course the coronavirus Census, so every date and deadline was pushed back by several months, back in the early spring when we figured this would all be blown over by now (haha). Your self-response ‘deadline’ has been delayed to October 31 from a previous July 31, but the door-knockers’ Nonresponse Follow-up (NRFU) will begin their postponed interview attempts at individual households on Tuesday, August 11.
“What has not changed is that every person living in the United States has the right to be counted. Period,” United Way Bay Area census lead Stephanie Kim told KPIX.
That’s difficult to do even in years when Donald Trump is not president, as certain communities are more difficult to reach, because of their unfamiliarity with the English language, fears over their immigration status, or that they live in multi-unit buildings where it’s difficult for enumerators to gain entry. Here in San Francisco, the risks of undercounting are highest in Bayview/Hunters Point, the Mission, the Tenderloin, and South of Market.
But this is a year where Donald Trump is president, and he continues to crusade against people of color being counted. Fresh off last year’s Supreme Court thumping over the citizenship question, CNN reports that his new tactic is an executive order, signed Tuesday, that would exclude the undocumented from being counted when drawing up new congressional districts.
CNN has the full text of the executive order, which uses clearly racist language in calling for “the exclusion of illegal aliens from the apportionment base.” The inevitable legal challenges form ACLU are already in motion, arguing that the Constitution demands the counting of "the whole Number of free Persons" in a district (which is itself pretty troubling language, too!) California stands to lose a House seat anyway thanks to demographic trends unrelated to Trump, and the guy’s track record in attempts at demolishing the Census has not been good. But merely starting national conversations about citizenship and “aliens” makes some communities more fearful of participating in the count, with potentially serious side effects of less funding for schools, roads, and other important infrastructure.
Image: @raheemsphoto via Unsplash