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An accurate Census is critical to the proper functioning of our representational democracy. Such data, which is confidential, directly effects the allocation of more than $675 billion in federal funding every year.

It is imperative that all communities are counted accurately and fully in order to provide resources such as health care, housing, and education to all individuals and families living in the United States. 

That is why, as a member of the Committee on Appropriations, I helped secure $1.68 billion for the Census Bureau to continue its important operations.

I have also been working with the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure maximum participation and inclusion in the 2020 Census while continuing to ensure that this process remains immune to political bias.

However, the Census’s recent decision to cut short its counting efforts by a full month (From October 31to September 30) is reckless and dangerous. The administration’s decision will jeopardize a fair and accurate count. 

Cutting the in-person counting period will ensure that “hard-to-count” areas will be missed and distort the numbers for a decade. This will especially hurt communities on the border. 

Currently, the self-response rate for our district is 49.5% and the State of Texas rate is 57.9%. And as of July 28, the self-response rate for our counties is:

  • 40.6% for Atascosa
  • 61.3% for Bexar
  • 47.6% for Hidalgo 
  • 25.2% for La Salle 
  • 20.5% for McMullen 
  • 39.8% for Starr 
  • 45.3% for Webb 
  • 61.1% for Wilson 
  • 21.3% for Zapata 

As you can see, we have a lot more work to do in ensuring everyone is counted and the proper resources are allocated. Now is not the time to cut the counting period for the Census. 

Several former directors of the Census Bureau told members of Congress recently that any reductions to the counting process could endanger the usefulness of the census results. I do not support this decision and see it as an attempt to suppress the count. As the Representative of several “hard to count” areas. I will work hard to ensure that our communities are not left behind. 

It is critical that there is a fair and accurate count. That is why I voted with my colleagues to pass the HEROES Act stimulus package. This important legislation included provisions that would push back by four months the legal deadlines for the bureau to deliver 2020 census results. In addition, it also would boost the emergency budget for the census by $400 million.

However, the House is still negotiating with the Senate on this bill. Moving forward, please know I will work with my colleagues in Congress to fight against this irresponsible decision. It is critical that there is an accurate census. 

In order to continue receiving necessary federal funds for both public and private projects, it is vital that everyone in our district complete the U.S. Census in 2020 to ensure that all are properly accounted for.

The Census determines the allocation of important programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, SNAP, Head Start, and Highway Planning and Construction. In 2010, Webb County was the most underreported county in the nation for persons under 5 years of age. This affected the meals that our children received at their schools. Our children represent the future of our nation and we need to ensure that they are all accounted for so that they have the proper resources to thrive. 

I strongly encourage everyone to respond online at 2020census.gov.

Households can respond online or by phone in English or 12 other languages

You can for English at 844-330-2020

You can call for Spanish at 844-468-2020

Households can also respond by mail using the paper questionnaire that was mailed in April to most non-responding addresses

Households that have already responded may disregard the reminder postcard if they receive it. 

Editor’s Note: The above commentary was penned by U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar. It is based upon talking points the congressman made in a teleconference call with reporters on Aug. 5, 2020.


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