SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In Santa Clara County, the challenge to have every single resident complete the census has intensified as county leaders have switched much of their efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just last week, county leaders denounced President Donald Trump’s memo calling to exclude undocumented immigrants from census totals when determining congressional representation– the county says the memorandum comes at a critical point when nearly 30 percent of Santa Clara County households have not completed the census.
“The president would huff and puff about this group not being counted or that group not being counted, I am not surprised by it, but Californians should know that by listening to that kind of rhetoric and upheaval, the challenge is that it only really hurts us,” said Cindy Chavez, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
“The census is used for long after the census numbers are taken, it can be used for 10 more years. In addition to that, the state of California can lose a congressional seat if everybody isn’t counted.”
Efforts to ensure everyone is counted
One of the leaders in making sure everyone completes the census throughout the county is Santa Clara County’s Office of the Census.
Program Manager for the county’s Office of the Census, Nicholas Kuwada tells KRON4 President Trump’s recent call to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census has created more fear throughout the community.
“We were formed in 2018, the main purpose of our office is really to bridge that gap because things like the citizenship question would get in the way, the digital census, the first time that’s ever been done,” said Kuwada.
“It’s constant … this next wave of fear-inducing actions by this administration to really cut udocumnted individuals out from the process, when it’s actually their right to be counted, it’s in the constitution.”
Santa Clara County’s “hard-to-count” communities
According to an interactive map provided by the California Census Office shows much of Santa Clara County falls above the median “hard-to-count” index.
Leading variables include: crowded units, unemployment and foreign-born populations among others.
“We have many people in our community who are not connected by the internet,” said Supervisor Chavez.
“There needs to be other ways for them to get their information and other ways for them to be able to fill out the questionnaire … the great news is there is a phone number that you can call and it’s multi-lingual and fill out your census form over the phone.”
To complete the census click here or call 844-330-2020.
Adapting to first-ever digital census
In addition to completing the census over the phone, the office of the census is continuing to go out on foot to “hard-to-count” communities to provide assistance.
Census kiosks and questionnaire assistance are now available at COVID-19 testing centers in San Jose and Gilroy.
“One of our goals recently has been to do phone banking … we have done about 90,000 dials so far,” said Kuwada.
“We are also leafleting in many tracts around San Jose and some other areas as well … we are also at Oak Grove High School which is actually a pop-up COVID testing site, where we actually have our kiosks there,”
“If you want to get tested and fill out the census it’s all right there for you, all in one place.”
Due to COVID-19, the deadline to complete the census was originally extended by the federal government.
On Monday, the Trump administration abandoned its original plan to extend the census deadline, which will now end a full month earlier — households must complete the survey by Sept. 30. instead of Oct. 31.