HARLINGEN, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley has been featured in a Washington Post story about a potential undercount of Latino and Black communities.

The U.S. Census Bureau will wrap-up its Census 2020 count on September 30, 2020.

At the moment, the count in the Valley is not very high.

The national average for residents self-responding is 63.3%. The statewide average in Texas is 58.3%.

In Cameron County the figure is 46.9%,. In Hidalgo County the figure is 48.7%. In Starr County the figure is 42.2%. In Willacy County the figure is 38.2%.

As for cities in the Valley, Harlingen is at 50.7%, Brownsville is at 53.0 %, McAllen is at 55.9%, Weslaco is at 47.9%, Raymondville is at 48.0 %, and Rio Grande City is at 45.8%.

Salomon Torres

Governmental affairs consultant Salomon Torres of Harlingen says the census situation in the Valley is currently dire.

“The counties and all organizations that are regional in scope, such as the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council, and the large cities need to get into a war room mentality.The clock is ticking and all hands need to be on deck to get the participation rates up pronto,” Torres said.

“We need to be as aggressive and creative as we are during election time (minus canvassing and person-to-person electioneering). This is as good a time as any for the two main statewide political parties to invest in local outreach.”

Torres said an undercount will harm all, regardless of political affiliation.

“Phone banking, social media, billboards, and networking among our closest networks.Heck, why not conduct our own census of our extended families to check in whether they completed already and find out what is our family participation rate?” Torres asks.

The Washington Post story is titled “Abrupt change to census deadline could result in an undercount of Latino and Black communities.” It is penned by Jose A. Del Real and Fredrick Kunkle. They write:

“Census experts and advocates warn that the Trump administration’s decision to end the decennial count a month earlier than expected will result in a dramatic undercount of Black and Latino communities across the country, which could have grave effects on federal funding and political representation in their neighborhoods.

“They point in particular to alarmingly low response rates in places such as the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and the Bronx in New York, where the coronavirus pandemic had already interrupted outreach in some of the country’s hardest-to-count census tracts. National nonprofits and community activists are putting together urgent persuasion campaigns in an attempt to cram three months of work into two — driving through neighborhoods with bullhorns taped to vehicles, pouring funds into geotagged digital advertising, and phone-banking.”

The reporters quote Lizette Escobedo, who leads the census program for NALEO Educational Fund, a nonpartisan Latino rights organization, as saying: “We’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and they might be shortchanging every Latino community for 10 years to come. This is cruel.”

Click here to read the story in The Washington Post. 

Editor’s Note: Credit for the main image accompanying the above news story goes to the Latino Community Foundation.

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