County of Santa Clara Condemns Inclusion of Citizenship Question in 2020 Census

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SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CA —  The County of Santa Clara is committed to ensuring that every county household will be officially counted for the 2020 Census, part of the County’s multi-year campaign to “get out the count.”   Following the news that the U.S. Commerce Department, which oversees the U.S. Census Bureau, is including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire, the County of Santa Clara remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring all county residents – including the approximately 40% of county residents who are foreign born – are appropriately represented. 

“Putting a question about citizenship on the census undermines the core purpose of the census, which is to get an accurate count of all U.S. residents. Accuracy should be the Census Bureau’s focus, not politics. Everyone should be counted,” said Supervisor Cindy Chavez, representing Central, East and South San Jose.  

“The County is committed to the safety and well-being of every single one of our residents,” said Deputy County Executive David Campos. “The 2020 Census is a top priority for us, and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure an accurate count, so that none of our communities are left behind when it comes to the vital federal funding and representation.” 

“I’m disappointed that the Census Bureau is caving to the Trump Administration’s attempt to inject its anti-immigrant agenda into the Constitutionally-mandated count of every person residing in the United States. This can only result in a less accurate census and an undercount of Santa Clara County residents,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager.

“The Census Bureau’s plan to include a citizenship question virtually assures that the 2020 Census will be inaccurate. This has profound implications for political representation and funding for the life-saving services that the County provides,” said County Counsel James R. Williams. “The County is evaluating its legal options and will pursue every available avenue to ensure an accurate and complete count, which is essential for our democracy.” 

Each year, the federal government invests nearly $2,000 per person in California based on census data. Political representation also turns on the decennial census; congressional seats are allocated based on census data, and state and local governments use census data to draw political district boundaries. 

About the County of Santa Clara’s Census Efforts

Earlier this month, the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors approved an unprecedented $1 million to launch the 2018 Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) effort, one of the most significant opportunities for the County of Santa Clara to ensure that every county household is on the Census Bureau’s address list to be officially counted. This is the first phase of the County’s multi-year campaign to “get out the count” for the 2020 Census.  Last month, the County filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in order to learn more about the U.S. Census Bureau’s reasoning for this citizenship question and about the Bureau’s plans to protect the privacy of individuals who respond to the Census. 

The County has until June 30, 2018 to complete the first phase of work. The funding will support data gathering, research, local partnerships, canvassing and community engagement to identify households that are not in the Census’s current address list.  Such households are often found in communities that are undercounted in the Census, including the county’s large populations of immigrants, people of color, young children, single parents, low-income families, large or overcrowded households, and those living in low-visibility housing, such as cottages, basements, converted garages and recreational vehicles.