The US Census Bureau is geared up for the 2020 Census. The decennial population survey has already started in rural Alaska and most households will receive a request to participate during March.

Vital for accruing data, apportioning political representation and – among other things – convening school and election districts; the census forms the basis of a blueprint for allocating billions of dollars of funds at a federal, state, tribal, and local government level. An accurate headcount is essential for infrastructure planning, hospitals and all kinds of community support.

Participation is required by law, with penalties for not complying or failing to answer questions – or answering untruthfully. 

But there is a problem. Census researchers say that it’s harder to reach some demographic groups than others, with black and Hispanic communities deemed ‘hard to count.’ Adults within those groups are less likely to believe the census is either important or relevant to their lives.

In the shadow of the current administration’s unsuccessful attempt to glean citizenship information via questions added to the survey, there has been an erosion of an already fragile trust. Undocumented immigrants are afraid of disclosing any information that might be held against them. 

A census spokesperson has stated that all information given will be; ‘safe, secure, protected by law and are not shared with law enforcement agencies including ICE, CIA or local law enforcement.’

But who can blame anyone worried about their immigration status for not feeling reassured? 

Locally, The Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Action Fund, Silver State Voices and the American Civil Liberties Union are three groups that are actively encouraging undocumented immigrants to participate, rather than leave themselves open to the consequences of failing to do so.  

Here at Bighorn Law, we hear the voices of concern from immigrant communities loud and clear. Standing up to be counted is important, but so is listening to the reasons why people are genuinely afraid of doing so. 

Are you worried about the census, or do you have another immigration question? Tune in to Bighorn partner Chad ‘El Guero Gigante’ Schaub every Wednesday at 2:30 pm on La Indiscreta 106.7 FM for bilingual immigration advice and community chat. 

Can’t make Wednesdays? El Guero, together with Attorney Bill, has added a second show every Tuesday at 3:00 pm at La Onda 107.5FM / 1190AM, so there’s another chance each week to get the very best immigration advice, straight from the Bighorn Law experts.