SAN JUAN, Texas – Bishop Daniel E. Flores is urging parishioners to complete their 2020 Census form.

Flores held a news conference at the Basilica in San Juan on Wednesday to announce the census outreach the Diocese of Brownsville will be doing between now and the Sept. 30 deadline.

“We want to get the word out about how important this is for the (Rio Grande) Valley,” Flores said. 

He pointed out that the region’s representation on Congress can be weakened if a full and accurate census count is not taken. He also said that much of the federal funding that comes to the Valley is based on the size of its population. 

Flores said he is encouraging every priest at every parish to promote Census participation through multiple actions. These include:

• Announcements at the beginning and/or end of Mass

• Awareness and reminders through any parish gatherings, in person or online

• Inclusion in parish bulletins, newsletters, and social media platforms

• Phone Banks at lowest performing locations; church staff/volunteers call parishioners to assist in responding 

The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville oversees the work of 72 parishes and 44 mission churches across the four counties of the Valley. 

Flores said he is particularly concerned that colonias could be low-performing census count areas. He also said Valley residents should not be concerned about the information they provide on the census form being used for immigration purposes. 

Currently, the self-response rate in Texas is 61.1 percent. In Hidalgo County it is 52.1 percent. In Cameron County it is 50.2 percent. In Starr County it is 46.4 percent, and in Willacy County it is 40.9 percent. 

“A vital part of the mission of the Church is to care for the people of God – all people – Catholic or not. To participate in the Census 2020 is an act of great solidarity with our brothers and sisters, many of whom will benefit from numerous programs funded according to the Census count conducted every ten years. The Diocese is aware of the role and responsibility of the Church, as it seeks to be a force for good in the community,” a news release from the Diocese stated.

The Diocese plans to hold Census drive-through events on Sept. 13 in Weslaco at San Martin, Mission at Lady of Guadalupe, and Elsa at Sacred Heart. On Sept. 20 it will hold similar events in Harlingen at Our Lady of the Assumption, in San Benito at St. Benedict, and in Alamo at Resurrection. On Sept. 27 it will hold Census drive-through events in Lyford at Prince of Peace, in Escobares at Sacred Heart and in Brownsville at San Felipe de Jesus.

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