Over the last few decades, American Muslims have come to understand the importance of voting and in general, civic engagement. All eyes seem to be on November’s presidential election – an election that will determine this country’s fate for the next four years. But there is another issue at stake, one that is less on the radar, but impacts our community’s representation and our accessibility to power, funding and resources for the next 10 years.
It is the 2020 Census.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts a Constitutionally-mandated count of every person living in the United States —no matter where they are from, why they are here in the United States, and whether or not they are documented. This includes temporary workers, international students, and workers on assignment from overseas.
The results of the 2020 Census will help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding flow into communities every year for the next decade. That funding shapes many different aspects of every community life including housing, schools, roads, food assistance, health care, and other vital social and public safety services.
The 2020 Census impacts our community at every level of political power. It determines how many seats a state may gain or lose in the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as how political district lines are drawn from state-level congressional seats to local school district boundaries. States that grow rapidly can gain congressional seats while those that fail to keep pace can lose seats.
Yet, multicultural groups such as Latinos, African Americans and Middle Easterners, who often have the most at stake are among some of the hardest to count and historically undercounted populations.
There is no single reason for the undercount, and therefore no single solution. In general, confusion, fear about confidentiality of responses, and misunderstanding about who should be counted at an address also contribute to an undercount.
Florida, in particular, is struggling with low response rates. Its state self-response rate is 61.8%. Broward county is at 60.9%, Palm Beach County is at 62.4% and Miami-Dade is at 60.2%.
Communities should be aware that it’s not too late and that it is safe to respond. Community leaders and other trusted voices can help by educating their respective communities on the Census and encouraging them to respond.
- respond online
- by phone in English at 844-330-2020
- by mail
The Census concludes on Sept. 30, 2020.
In the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands of census takers began knocking on doors nationwide to count people who have not yet responded on their own. English-speaking census takers, many of them bi-lingual, are hired from local communities. They have material available to help identify a household’s language. In addition, if a census taker does not speak the householder’s language, the household may request a return visit from a census taker who does. When people respond on their own, it’s less likely that a census taker will need to visit to help ensure they are counted.
Learn more and respond today at 2020census.gov.