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Posted on: April 11, 2018

COUNTY URGES CONGRESS TO OPPOSE CITIZENSHIP QUESTION IN 2020 CENSUS

Census Group

Several members of the Hidalgo County 2020 Census Committee expressed support of a Commissioners Court resolution in opposition of a citizenship question on the 2020 Census.

"The inclusion of the citizenship question is expected to further exacerbate the historical undercounting of the Latino population throughout the country and in Hidalgo County," said Christina Patiño Houle, representing the Equal Voice Network of the Rio Grande Valley.

The Equal Voice Network, which is one of several organizations included in the Census Committee, is a coalition of eight nonprofit organizations with more than 300,000 members.

Houle was joined by representatives from La Union del Pueblo Entero and Congressman Vicente Gonzalez' office at Commissioners Court in support of the resolution. An internet-based Census, Census Bureau funding shortage, and anti-immigrant rhetoric pose new challenges for our region with now a greater challenge being imposed by adding a citizenship question to the Census Questionnaire, reads the resolution.

The resolution stresses that the constitutional mandate is that all people residing in the United States be counted and that asking if the responder is a citizen will deter residents from responding and will negatively affect our region's congressional, state, and local representation, as well as funding for programs and infrastructure vital to the community's continued development.

"The constitutional mandate is that all people residing in the United States be counted. It says nothing about only counting citizens," said Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia.

Hidalgo County is the seventh most populous of 254 counties in Texas and has historically faced undercounts and other challenges during the census process.

"For every person not counted, the region loses out on about $15,700 over a 10-year span," said Garcia. "If ten thousand people are not counted, it would equal a net loss of about $157 million over a decade."

Houle said the county has made great strides to overcome challenges with the 2020 Census Committee.

"The County Judge's historical knowledge of the importance of the census has been critical in the process of preparing for 2020," Houle said. "The Equal Voice Network has been working closely with the County Judge to prepare for an accurate count in the 2020 Census and our collaborative efforts have been recognized: for the first time there will be an area census office placed in Hidalgo County, scheduled to open in 2019."

She commended the county for taking the lead in bringing together a coalition of city and community leaders as well as representatives from other organizations and entities with the goal of ensuring an accurate count in 2020.

"We applaud Judge Garcia and Assistant Chief of Staff Erika Reyna for their leadership on the census and the Commissioners Court for modeling how at the local and regional level," Houle said. "We can embody the principles of democracy this country was built upon, even when those values are being challenged at the federal level."

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