WESLACO, RGV – The top priority for the Rio Grande Valley over the next 90-plus days should be Census 2020.

That is the view of Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. At the conclusion of an RGV Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting, Treviño explained the importance of getting a full an accurate census count.

“Everybody in the Valley should be making this (census outreach) a priority for the next 90 days,” Treviño said.

He pointed out that, starting in March, all Valley residents will receive their census packets.

“Everything we have discussed here, at our city meetings, at our council meetings, at our school board meetings, in our churches, in our neighborhoods, revolves around the fact that for decades the Rio Grande Valley and South Texas has been underfunded because it has been undercounted and not properly represented,” Treviño said.

“This is the largest project we can work on. As big as the (transportation) projects are, nothing is going to work if we don’t take advantage of this opportunity.”

The more people that are counted, the more federal and state funding is allocated to a community. Political representation is also enhanced. According to state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, a full count of Texas residents could make the difference between the Lone Star State getting four additional congressional seats, rather than the expected three.

“We have 90 to 120 days for all of us in this room and everybody outside that we represent, know and work with can make sure that we take advantage,” Treviño said, at the RGV MPO meeting.

Treviño praised Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez and the county’s commissioners court for being “very engaged” in census outreach efforts. As for Cameron County, he said: “We are trying to meet with every school board and every governmental entity. I would encourage the same thing in the Hidalgo County side, all of us have to do our part.”

Treviño noted that the Trump administration wanted to include a citizenship on the census form. He pointed out that Cameron and Hidalgo counties joined a lawsuit to stop that happening. They were successful.

“I am proud of that fact,” Treviño said. “There is a lot of mistrust, obviously, with regards to the fact that many of our residents may or may not have documentation. We have to remind them that all of the information is confidential and will not be allowed to be disclosed to any other entity, regardless of what this administration or a particular department of the government may want. The U.S. Census protects all information on a confidentiality basis.”

Treviño finished his plea with these words:

“I would like to remind everybody that every chance you get, for the next 12 weeks, if we do not take advantage of this we will only have ourselves to blame. And, when we are short of money, whether it is in transportation, health, housing, medial, whatever the situation may be, law enforcement, it is because of this. Please, let’s work our tails off over the next four months and get this done.”