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Census Workers Begin Door-to-Door Visits After Trump Moves Deadline


Tuesday, August 11, 2020   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Starting today, census takers will begin visiting homes that haven't returned their 2020 census forms. Residents of New Mexico historically are undercounted, in part because nearly 900,000 people live in rural, hard-to-count areas.

Jacob Vigil, research and policy analyst with New Mexico Voices for Children, said even a 1% undercount would mean a huge loss of federal funds. In fact, it would amount to a loss of about $3,000 per person, for a total of $600 million over the next 10 years.

He said there's still time to participate online, by phone or by returning forms sent earlier this year.

"Most of the work is done through self-reporting, and that's the best way," Vigil said. "But then after that, the Census Bureau actually sends out enumerators and personnel out through the country to capture those folks who did not self-report."

There is now greater urgency to boost New Mexico's flagging census participation, after the Trump administration unexpectedly moved the deadline from October 31 to the end of September.

The census count determines how much money communities receive for resources such as hospitals, schools, roads, infrastructure and water systems. Vigil said in particular, tribal communities and children are nearly always under-counted in the Census.

"So we're talking about Medicaid, we're talking the CHIP program - children's health insurance - school lunches, SNAP; a lot of different programs that directly impact children," he said.

Last week, the Census Bureau reported the self-response rate for the country was around 63%, while New Mexico's rate was 10-points lower at 53%. Vigil believes that can be improved.

"Being currently the lowest response state and a state with large numbers of undercounted population - including children, children of color, tribal communities - it's really imperative that we get that accurate count," he said. "We have enough time to do that."

The U.S. Census Bureau gave no explanation as to why the deadline had been moved up, but Democratic lawmakers, including New Mexico's congressional delegation criticized the changed deadline, saying it was done to deliberately undercount groups that tend to support their party.

2020 U.S. Census forms can be completed via the Bureau's toll-free number at 1-844-330-2020 or online at "parent"> or by paper form.

Disclosure: New Mexico Voices for Children/KIDS COUNT contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Early Childhood Education, Human Rights/Racial Justice, Poverty Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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