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Census responses lagging behind in some Latino and Native American communities in the Valley

Posted at 3:12 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 21:56:23-04

Time is running out to meet the federal deadline for the U.S Census on Sept. 30. With less than two weeks left, Latino advocates are urging Latino and Native American communities to fill out the census survey before it is too late.

“The census is where we get money for our schools. It provides resources for our roads. If you have a new baby and you’re thinking about getting Head Start or WIC, those resources go to our community and a lot of people don’t know that, also the after-school programs,” expressed Yolanda Medina, Census Coordinator for One Arizona.

Advocates like Medina are especially worried about the Latino-Native American town of Guadalupe, Arizona. A small town located between Tempe and Ahwatukee where residents are mainly Latino and Native American.

According to the U.S. Census, only half of their population has self-responded to the Census survey.

“I take the census very personal because I'm a first-time mom. I have a 4-year-old and in 10 years he’s going to be 14 years old and that means he’s going to go through K-6 and is going to need a lot of resources.”

Medina says she understands that there’s still a lot of fear among the Latino community about whether or not their legal status will be questioned.

“You don’t have to have a legal status to answer the survey. We all need to be counted regardless of status. There’s a lot of confusion in our community, but there’s no question in the survey about whether or not you’re a citizen or resident. It’s just basic information and is kept confidential,” added Medina.

Arizona House Representative Raquel Teran says it is critical for the Latino and Native American community to complete the survey because they’re already underrepresented.

Teran says the survey could determine the resources these underserved communities will get for the next 10 years.

“We need the resources to make sure that we have the infrastructure that we need. To make sure that we have a fully funded education system. After this pandemic, we’re going to see the effects of this crisis in the next few years. We will need more resources to make sure our communities have what they need to have a better life.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is another factor that could be deterring communities of color from filling out the survey.

“People are prioritizing survival, they’re prioritizing work, making sure that their children are fed and going to school. Sometimes it’s not a priority,” stated Teran.

Organizations like One Arizona say they will continue pushing until the last minute to make sure everyone gets counted.

“Don’t wait until the last minute. 10 minutes is going to determine 10 years of resources,” added Medina.

For more information on how to fill out the survey call 844-330-2020 or visit their website.