By Roz Brown, Public News Service
March 18, 2020
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The new coronavirus health crisis has more people self-isolating, and that makes it a good time to complete your 2020 Census form.
Census results will determine the allocation of $1.5 trillion in federal spending, as well as how many congressional seats each state gets. By fulfilling an important civic duty, said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, state residents can ensure that millions of dollars that support New Mexico families are maintained — or possibly increased.
“It’s really easy to do,” he said. “You can do it online, you can do it by mail, you can do it over the phone — and all of those ways will ensure that no one ends up knocking on your door, so you can continue to self-isolate if that’s important to you.”
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Census Bureau said it had recruited enough people for the once-a-decade head count, ahead of its big push for responses on April 1, Census Day. The start of door-to-door counts is set to begin on April 23. The citizenship question pushed by the Trump administration earlier does not appear on the 2020 form.
According to the Census Bureau, about 43% of New Mexico’s population lives in “hard-to-count” areas, with significant immigrant and Native American populations. But every New Mexican counted in the 2020 census could result in about $3,000 in federal funds for the state. Jimenez said those funds help support Medicaid, SNAP benefits and grant programs for early-childhood education and special education.
“For New Mexico, a 1% undercount could result in a $600 million loss of funds over the next decade,” he said, “so it’s pretty big dollars we’re talking about.”
Completion of the 2020 census is planned by the end of July, but the Census Bureau has said the date could be extended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The questionnaire, online at mycensus2020.gov, is available in 13 languages, with assistance available for others.