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MN Latino Community: Census Undercount Hurts


Monday, March 14, 2022   

A new analysis of the 2020 Census confirmed the fears of organizers serving Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities. Several racial groups saw big undercounts, and in Minnesota, Latino groups are assessing how to respond.

Last week, the Census bureau announced segments of populations that were missed included Latino, Black and Native American individuals. Latinos had an undercount rate of nearly 5%, much higher than the 2010 Census.

Rodolfo Gutierrez is the executive director of Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER), a research group that did Census engagement work in Minnesota.

He said there were several possible reasons for the undercount, such as the pandemic and interference from the Trump administration.

"It's kind of a logical outcome," said Gutierrez. "Several factors came together to deter people coming out and say 'I'm here.'"

Former president Trump had pushed to include a citizenship question on the forms. While that effort failed, analysts say it had a chilling effect on immigrant populations.

Gutierrez said they'll have to enlist more trusted local leaders to help affected communities be more vocal about their needs.

Like previous Census efforts, the trend continued for an undercount of kids under five.

The Census helps guide federal spending for various programs, including healthcare.

Gutierrez said larger Latino populations in rural sections of Minnesota are especially vulnerable to the fallout from a Census undercount.

"Members of those communities are coming to work in the fields or in the meatpacking industry," said Gutierrez. "They are the ones who are more in need, healthcare access and they're in need of housing support."

Overall, Minnesota has a reputation for higher response rates in the Census. Gutierrez said while groups like his made strong connections in the most recent count, the Latino population still couldn't fully overcome new or longstanding barriers that lead to undercounts.

Currently, Latinos make up more than six-percent of the state's population.

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