Event held to address potential 2020 Census undercount in Tulare County

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- The census is more than just a head count of everyone living in the United States.

Figures from the U.S. census, which occurs every ten years, impact state congressional seats, Electoral College votes, and billions of dollars in federal funding, including programs like Medicaid and Head Start.

Getting the most accurate count possible is in everyone's best interest.

The problem, according to U.C. Merced Sociology Professor Dr. Edward Flores, is that California's rural regions, including Tulare County, are at a higher risk of an undercount because of their large immigrant population and prevalence of complex households.

"Yet sadly, being hard to count or underrepresented can lead to unequivocal political representation and unequal access to vital public and private resources for these communities and their representation."

On Friday, San Francisco-based Ethnic Media Services hosted a briefing about the risk of an undercount in Tulare County in 2020.

One concern is the Trump administration's proposal to add a citizenship question to the census.

Later this year the Supreme Court will decide if that question can added.

But Farmersville's city council has already adopted a resolution opposing such a question, which hasn't been on a census since 1950.

"The other thing you can do is to make sure that your residents understand that the census data is private," Farmersville Mayor Greg Gomez said. "It's not going to go anywhere outside the U.S. Census Bureau."

Representatives from California Complete Count also spoke about the unprecedented amount of money they will distribute to organizations and counties around the state for communications and outreach ahead of the census - more than $100 million.

They say they'll focus on the hardest to count Californians.

"We want to touch and make sure that they are activated, that they are educated, and that they get out and are motivated--the hardest to count Californians - so that they count in 2020," said California Complete Count's Diana Pelayo-Crofts.

The census may be more than a year away, but behind the scenes, there are people working to make sure everyone, from kids to adults, citizens to undocumented immigrants-are counted in 2020.
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