EDINBURG, Texas – U.S. Census Bureau enumerators will be going door to door in hard to count areas of the Rio Grande Valley in August, a local census expert says.

Katie Jones works in Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez’s census division. She and a few of her colleagues were doing census outreach work in Edinburg on Tuesday, alongside staff from the Census Bureau and the City of Edinburg.

“When the coronavirus struck it pushed everything back. But, starting in August, Census Bureau enumerators will be going door to door in hard to count areas of the Rio Grande Valley.”

Those enumerators may play a vital role. At the moment Valley counties lag far behind the statewide average when it comes to filling out the census form. The self response rate for Texas is 55.5 percent. The self response rate for Hidalgo County is 43.7 percent. For Cameron County the self response rate is 42.8 percent. For Starr County the rate is 32.8 percent. And for Willacy County the rate is 28.1 percent.

“We are over ten percent behind the state, which is why we are here today, trying to get people to fill out the form,” Jones said.

Asked what the reaction had been, Jones said: “We have had a good response. We helped 211 households fill out for form using these tablets. If they did they got a bag of freebies, including t-shirts, mugs, pens, pencils, key chains.”

Those who did not want to fill out the form were given a flier and asked to complete the form later. 

The outreach work Jones and her colleagues were doing on Tuesday took place at a Food Bank RGV event at HEB Park in Edinburg. Although Census Bureau staff were present they were not allowed to talk to reporters.

Congressmen Filemon Vela and Vicente Gonzalez have been so concerned about the Valley’s poor Census 2020 response rate that they have been making calls to local residents, both in English in Spanish.

“I hope those that receive this call will take a few moments and answer the Census questionnaire,” Gonzalez said. “It’s our civic responsibility to complete the Census. Not doing so could mean the loss of millions of dollars for federal programs like public education, hospitals, libraries and so many things our community depends on.”   

Here is Rep. Gonzalez’s message in English:

Here is Rep. Gonzalez’s message in Spanish:

The deadline to fill out the Census has been extended to October 31, 2020.  To complete the census by telephone, dial 844-330-2020. To complete the census by telephone, in Spanish, dial 844-468-2020. To complete the Census online, visit my2020census.gov.

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