The US House Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties conducted a field hearing on the 2020 Census in NYC. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), co-chair of the House Census Caucus, requested the field hearing on the importance of the 2020 decennial census and achieving an accurate count for the country through the lens of New York City. The hearing was chaired by the Subcommittee Chair Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Congresswomen Carolyn B. Maloney and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

The hearing, entitled Getting Counted: The Importance of the Census to State and Local Communities, tackled the importance of federal programs that rely on an accurate census count, how businesses rely on census data for growth and development, the Constitutional implications and functions of the census, and what actions New York City is taking to ensure the highest possible participation rate. It was held as the Gazette went to press on Tuesday, May 28, at The Little Theater, LaGuardia Community College, 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City.

Congresswoman Maloney is the author of the 2020 Census IDEA Act. She led an amicus brief of 126 current and former members of Congress in support of the New York attorney general’s lawsuit against the citizenship question, and was the only member of Congress to attend the Supreme Court oral arguments on April 23.

• The Census is a bedrock component of our democracy. Required by the Constitution, it provides data essential to the functioning of our local, state, and federal governments, as well as to the well-being of every single person in the United States.

• Census data is used to apportion funds for crucial federal programs like Medicaid, Medicare Part B, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Head Start, and the NYS Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In Fiscal Year 2015, Census data was used to apportion $674 billion for 132 federal programs. In New York, for example, the state received more than $547 million in federal funding for Head Start and more than $657 million for infrastructure development in Fiscal Year 2016.

• Census data will also be essential to upcoming redistricting efforts and determine how much representation each state gets in the US Congress. New York may lose 1 or 2 House seats and electoral college votes, depending on the 2020 Census count.

• It is critical that everyone be counted to ensure their communities receive a fair share of resources, but many communities are in danger of being undercounted in the 2020 Census.

• According to the Census Bureau, populations with a high risk of being undercounted include young children, people of color, low-income households, foreign-born residents, and households with limited internet access.

• During the 2020 Census, which will feature an online response option for the first time, there is a heightened risk of an undercount due to the digital divide, language access issues, and local community mistrust in the federal government.

• Local and state governments, as well as community based organizations, can play a critical role in counteracting the undercount risks, reaching hard-to-count populations, and ensuring their communities get counted in 2020.

WITNESSES

Panel One

Gail Mellow, President, LaGuardia CommunityCollege

Julie Menin, Census Director, City of New York

Joseph Salvo, Chief Demographer, Population Division, NYC Department of City Planning

Melva Miller, Executive Vice President, Association for a Better New York

Steven Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition

Panel Two

Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League

Greta Byrum, Co-Director, New School Digital Equity Laboratory

Elizabeth OuYang, Civil Rights Attorney, Educator, and Community Advocate

Jorge Luis Vasquez, Jr., Associate Counsel, Latino Justice PRLDF

Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq., General Counsel, Center for Law & Social Justice