Count EVERY Person in 2020 Census

By Steve Young

The decision by President Trump to require a citizenship question as part of the 2020 census has serious implications for the city of Benicia, Solano County and the state of California.  The inclusion of this question, which has not been part of the regular census since 1950, virtually guarantees that there will be a significant undercount, with the result costing Benicia and the rest of California significant sums of money.

The inclusion of the question seems aimed directly at urban centers and states with large immigrant populations. These populations, already on edge with the deportation raids by ICE will be understandably nervous about any interaction with federal officials asking questions about their immigration status. Immigrants, documented or not, contribute heavily to the economy and pay significant taxes. They drive on the same roads and require many of  the same services from local governments (although they are not eligible to receive federal benefits directly).

It has been estimated that the areas where people are undercounted will see their federal contributions for such things as transportation, public health care and infrastructure support decline by nearly $2,000 per person. Per year. For 10 years.

As soon as this change was announced, 19 states–including California– sued the Commerce Department. Among their arguments was that the move was clearly unconstitutional. Article 2 of the US Constitution calls for an “actual enumeration” of people every 10 years. Not just citizens — people. According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, “including a citizenship question will diminish response rates, and the census will not be able to fulfill its constitutional duty to count everyone.”

More than $600 billion is appropriated across state and local governments each year based on the census reports. An immigrant-heavy region whose population is underreported could lose public health dollars — as well as funding for food programs, school programs, and funding for public health services.
Four former census directors warned in a 2015 legal filing that any effort to add a question about citizenship for all households in the count would seriously undermine its accuracy. “The sum effect would be bad census data,” they wrote of the idea. “And any effort to correct for the data would be futile. Not counting people translates into communities not receiving funding, and that’s equally egregious in a way… It really translates into dollars for services and healthcare.”

It is in the interest of the City of Benicia, our region and our state that ALL people be counted in the 2020 census, and that the citizenship question be removed from the census forms.

 Steve Young is the vice mayor of Benicia.

PDM Meeting: April 10

Tuesday, April 10th, 7:00 pm
Benicia Public Library, Dona Benicia Room
150 East L Street, Benicia, CA

U.S. Senate candidate Kevin de León, 2018 candidate for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s U.S. Senate seat, will be the featured speaker at the Progressive Democrats of Benicia (PBD) next public meeting at the Benicia Public Library on April 10th in the Dona Benicia room at 7:00 p.m. All Democrats and the general public are invited to attend the meeting.

Mr. de León was elected to lead the Senate as President pro tem in 2014, making him the first Latino to hold that position in over a century. He was recently replaced with Toni Atkins.  He served four years in the Assembly before his election to the Senate in 2010. He is the first person in California history to serve as the Chair of the Appropriations committees in both the Assembly and Senate.

According to his Senate President biography, de León is the son of an immigrant mother who supported her family in the San Diego barrio of Logan Heights with housekeeping and other pick-up jobs. He was the first in his family to graduate from high school. He attended U.C. Santa Barbara and graduated from Pitzer College at the Claremont Colleges with honors. He is a Rodel Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a guest lecturer at the University of Southern California.

A recent article in the Los Angeles Times suggests de León’s legislative agenda has been broad. As far back as 2007, soon after taking office, after a child who was playing near where de León lived was hit by a gang member’s stray bullet and died, he made gun control one of his primary issues, including background checks for ammunition buyers.

Mr. de León has also focused on climate change legislation, pushing hard for less fossil fuel use and more alternative energy. In 2017, he helped negotiate a gas tax increase to raise $5.2 billion annually for road repairs. Also during the 2017 Legislative session, he sponsored a bill to create a state-run single-payer health insurance system. It passed the Senate but failed to get out of committee in the Assembly. But, it earned him the endorsement of the California Nurses Association. He told the LA Times, “You can criticize some of my stuff, but you can’t say it wasn’t big and wasn’t bold. I’ve always been of the strong belief that the time period you have, you use it to the fullest.” Continue reading PDM Meeting: April 10

Equity & Justice for All