Serving Nonprofits. Strengthening West Virginia.

Updates and Resources on 2020 U.S. Census

4/1/19 UPDATE: National Council of Nonprofits Amicus Brief

The National Council of Nonprofits has written an amicus brief on consideration of including the citizenship question in the 2020 Census. You can read the brief here.

12/14/18 UPDATE: New Census Resources

2020 Census State Complete Count Commissions Brochure

2020 Census State Complete Count Committee Flyer

2018 Policy Institute PowerPoint Presentation: Why Form a Complete Count Committee?

5/29/18 UPDATE: Litigation Over the 2020 Census

Last week, Alabama and a U.S. Representative from Alabama sued federal officials regarding the 2020 Census. Their lawsuit was the fifth (so far) alleging that the issue of citizenship will produce a flawed count. But while the first four lawsuits contend that the addition of a divisive and untested citizenship question will undercount people, the Alabama lawsuit claims that the 2020 Census will overcount people by including undocumented immigrants, alleging it will cause the state to lose a congressional seat.

Also last week, the Phoenix City Council voted to file a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Census Bureau’s plan to include a question about citizenship status in the 2020 Census. It is unknown at this time whether Phoenix will file its own lawsuit, or join existing litigation, as happened this month when five California cities and the state’s largest county joined the State of California’s lawsuit challenging the citizenship question

Questioning the Census Citizenship Question

Current Status From the National Council of Nonprofits:

The omnibus spending bill provides a $1.34 billion increase for the Census Bureau to help prepare for the 2020 count. This was double the President’s budget, which advocates cautioned would only keep the Bureau on “life support.” A bipartisan group of 161 mayors had called on the Administration to provide “adequate funding, qualified Census Bureau leadership, and a full rejection of untested questions that threatens to undermine census preparations and accuracy.”

On March 26, 2018, the U.S. Commerce Department announced that a question on citizenship status will be reinstated to the 2020 decennial census questionnaire. The stated reason for adding the controversial question is to help enforce the Voting Rights Act (VRA) according to a news release and memorandum supporting the decision. The California Attorney General announced on March 27, 2018 that he filed a lawsuit challenging the inclusion of the citizenship question as an “unconstitutional attempt to disrupt an accurate Census count.”

The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform scheduled a hearing on May 8, 2018 to examine the Census Bureau’s progress during the 2018 end-to-end test and examine ongoing preparations for the 2020 decennial census. The National Council of Nonprofits submitted comments to “express the significant concerns … that aspects of the 2020 Census are so amiss that they pose a serious risk of not getting it right and hurting our country.

What Nonprofits Can Do / Take Action

Nonprofits are encouraged to engage and help ensure a fair and accurate count, particularly in hard-to-count areas. Several ways to engage on the issue include:

  • Convene and educate community leaders and other stakeholders, including the media, about the Census.
  • Identify and partner with organizations and community stakeholders that are already connected to hard-to-count communities and have built strong relationships and trust.
  • Advocate to federal, state, and local lawmakers for funding to support census outreach efforts.
  • Work with state, county, tribal, and local government leaders to create and engage in Complete Count Committees (volunteer committees of government and community leaders from different sectors established to increase awareness about the census and promote participation).
  • Connect to national hubs (e.g., Census Project) that are providing resources to learn more about and engage in census advocacy.
  • Use the Census Project toolkits to take action.

More Resources

Counting for Dollars 2020: 16 Large Federal Assistance Programs that Distribute Funds on Basis of Decennial Census-derived Statistics (West Virginia Data) – The George Washington University

U.S. Census 2020 – National Council of Nonprofits

Nonprofits Already Eyeing 2020 Census, $800 Billion at Stake – The Non Profit Times, June 6, 2018.

Why the 2020 Census Matters to Nonprofits – National Council of Nonprofits, May 23, 2018.