Despite a Supreme Court roadblock, the Trump Administration says it will keep pushing to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
But critics, like Democratic U.S. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, say that could lead to an undercount in Illinois next year, potentially costing the state millions of dollars and perhaps a congressional district.
Census data is used to determine how federal funds for health care and other programs are distributed throughout the country. The census also determines how many congressional seats a state gets in Congress.
To make sure as many people are counted as possible – with or without the citizenship question – the Cook County Board of Commissioners is setting up a commission to increase participation in 2020.
Chaired by 4th District County Commissioner Stanley Moore, the Complete Count Census Commission will oversee smaller census committees across the county, which will be made up of municipalities, nonprofits and other groups.
“We’ve created a commission that will come up with a plan to help educate the population about the importance of the census, and so the commission is responsible for creating, crafting that plan, and helping to disseminate that plan throughout the census year,” Moore said.
County Commissioner Alma Anaya, who represents the 7th District on Chicago’s Southwest Side, is also serving on the commission. She says the possible inclusion of a citizenship question is extremely disconcerting to her constituents, many of whom are immigrants.
“We’re very worried,” Anaya said. “We want to make sure that the correct information is out there. We know that this is another tactic that the president is using to really target immigrant populations.”
Anaya says she’s hosted community meetings about the issue, and will continue to speak out in support of a full census count.
“Whether we have to tie it to representation, whether we have to tie it to the monetary value of it, overall we’re getting the word out,” she said.
The county has allocated $2 million to fund census outreach efforts.