Why getting an accurate US Census count is crucial, especially during the pandemic

President Trump signed a memorandum on Tuesday that says when the U.S. Census Bureau completes this year’s count, they must remove people who they believe are undocumented immigrants. The Census count is used to draw congressional districts. 

It’s not clear if what Trump wants is doable or legal. Immigrant rights groups have promised to sue.

“The president wants to amend the Constitution through a memo, which is really an assault on American sensibility and [is] utterly ridiculous,” says Arturo Vargas, CEO of the National Association of the Latino Elected Officials (NALEO).

He says an inaccurate Census harms everybody. “Any state that does not have an accurate count of its population, for the next 10 years, will not be receiving its fair share of political representation, of resources that are distributed by the federal government every year. We’re talking about $1.5 trillion. And the population data will be inaccurate when it comes to making key policy decisions.”

It’s already difficult allocating enough resources during this pandemic, he says. “Not everybody was counted during the 2010 Census. So even the numbers that are being used by the County of Los Angeles to try to respond to the pandemic, they’re off already because the 2010 Census was inaccurate to begin with.”