LASARA, Texas – The U.S. Census Bureau launched its first caravan “pitada” in Willacy County to promote completing the 2020 census in areas with low self-response rates.

With 30 vehicles in tow, census employees kicked things off at Lasara Elementary School before driving through nearby neighborhoods, honking enthusiastically to encourage residents to take part.

Although city leaders and groups like La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and A Resource in Serving Equality (ARISE) have organized caravans as part of their outreach, this is the first for the bureau, who found the idea to be a fun and creative way to motivate people who have yet to participate.

As of Monday, July 20, Willacy County had the lowest self-response rate of the four counties at 36%, compared to 39.3% for Starr County; 45.4% for Cameron County; and 47.1% for Hidalgo County. The cities of Lasara and San Perlita as well as the surrounding rural communities were targeted in particular by the Rio Grande Valley’s area census office (ACO) because of their scant participation rates, hovering at 24.8%. For Texas, the self-response rate is at 57.2%, and nationally, the self-response rate is and 62.3%.

In a region that is said to be significantly undercounted, these figures are not far from those seen in 2010. The self-response rates then were 50.6% for Willacy County; 45.5% for Starr County; 56.4% for Cameron County; and 55.9% for Hidalgo County. But, census workers are determined to count everyone. In addition to the caravans, they have hand-delivered census forms to 48,000 households in colonias and remote areas in Valley and mailed postcard reminders to P.O. Box holders. They hope these efforts will result in record self-response rates for the region before the October 31 deadline.

To complete the 2020 census, visit the U.S. Census Bureau website here or call 844-330-2020 (English) or 844-468-2020 (Spanish).

Editor’s Note: Ron Whitlock of Ron Whitlock Reports assisted with this story.

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above story shows Dalilah Garcia of the U.S. Census Bureau. (Photo credit: Ron Whitlock/Ron Whitlock Reports)

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