AUSTIN, Texas – Every member of the Texas House of Representatives from the Rio Grande Valley wants Census 2020 extended into 2021.

The delegation has joined other minority members in the House in calling for the self-response period to be extended from Sept. 30 to April 2021.

The Valley’s eight-member delegation in the Texas House consists of Reps. Ryan Guillen of Rio Grande City, Armando ‘Mando’ Martinez of Weslaco, Eddie Lucio, III, of Harlingen, Sergio Muñoz, Jr. , of Mission, Terry Canales of Edinburg, Oscar Longoria of La Joya, R.D. ‘Bobby’ Guerra of McAllen, and Alex Dominguez of Brownsville.

In a letter to the Texas congressional delegation, 67 Texas House members say they are not happy with a Census Bureau decision to wrap-up the self-response part of the census process on September 30. It was to be October 31.

The lawmakers say they are calling on the Texas congressional delegation “to join four former census directors, who have collectively helped, planned, executed, and led five decennial censuses and served nine Presidents from both parties, in calling on the President to ensure a complete census count by delaying the deadline to respond to the census until April 30, 2021.”

In addition, they urge the congressional delegation to support their request that Congress “assign an independent, apolitical institution to develop metrics for judging whether the final census numbers are reasonably accurate and, if not, determine the next necessary steps to meet that important constitutional responsibility.”

The lawmakers say Texas “has the most to lose” from a census undercount. They point to a George Washington University report estimates that a one percent undercount in Texas could cause a minimum $300 million annual federal funding loss for the next ten years.

The lawmakers say that would require Texas taxpayers to fill in the funding gaps or leave millions of Texans without essential supports and services.

As of August 16, 2020, the lawmakers say, Texas remains 5.5 points behind its 2010 census self-response rate — 58.9% in 2020 vs 64.4% in 2010.

The lawmakers also point out that the 2020 Census will be the basis for federal funding and support in the areas of apportionment and representation in Congress; federal funding for healthcare, education, housing, and transportation; and private-sector investment in the economy and infrastructure.

A copy of the letter was also sent to President Trump.

Here is a copy of the letter:


August 18, 2020

Dear Members of the Texas Congressional Delegation,

As you are aware, the Census Bureau announced last week it will stop its 2020 census count – including contacting residents in-person, by mail, by phone, and online – on September 30, 2020. This would halt the census count one month earlier than had been previously scheduled, despite the delays and difficulties getting an accurate count during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Simply put, among all 50 states, Texas has the most to lose from a census undercount and Texans will be poorly served unless we work across party lines to get a complete and accurate count. This is a Texas issue, not a partisan issue. In the past, even in divisive political times, Texans have put such differences aside to do what’s best for the people we represent, and they will be the ones who pay the price if the census shortchanges Texans.

As outlined in more detail below, the 2020 Census will be the basis for federal funding and support that will affect every aspect of our lives for the next decade, including:

  • Apportionment and representation in Congress;
  • Federal funding for healthcare, education, housing, and transportation; and
  • Private-sector investment in our economy and infrastructure.
    • In addition to the loss of critical funding, an undercount could leave Texas with one less congressional seat than what would be apportioned by a complete count, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. Instead of three additional congressional seats, Texas could get only two.

In addition to the loss of critical funding, the lawmakers say an undercount could leave Texas with one less congressional seat than what would be apportioned by a complete count. They base this argument on an analysis by the Pew Research Center. Instead of three additional congressional seats, Texas could get only two.

Right now, roughly four out of ten households nationwide have not been counted yet. The remaining households are what the Census Bureau considers the hardest to count. These are populations that have been historically undercounted and include people in every one of your districts who are not likely to fill out a form on their own.

A George Washington University report estimates that a 1% undercount in Texas could cause a minimum $300 million annual federal funding loss for the next 10 years that would require Texas taxpayers to fill in the funding gaps or leave millions of Texans without essential supports and services. As of August 16, 2020, Texas as a whole remains 5.5 points behind its 2010 census self-response rate — 58.9% in 2020 vs 64.4% in 2010, which means the administration’s plan would result in a much larger undercount and even less annual federal funding.

In addition to the loss of critical funding, an undercount could leave Texas with one less congressional seat than what would be apportioned by a complete count, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center. Instead of three additional congressional seats, Texas could get only two. Furthermore, the loss of representation could have a significant effect on the most rapidly growing regions and segments of our population, including the rapidly growing Latino, Black, and Asian population statewide and in our suburban communities.

The Enumeration Clause (or Census Clause), found in Article 1, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, vests Congress with the responsibility to conduct an “actual enumeration” of all people living in the United States every 10 years for the purposes of apportionment of congressional seats among the states. That responsibility has been delegated to the Secretary of Commerce, but Congress has the constitutional authority to require an accurate “actual enumeration.”

We, the undersigned, call on our Texas congressional delegation to join four former census directors, who have collectively helped, planned, executed, and led five decennial censuses and served nine Presidents from both parties, in calling on the President to ensure a complete census count by delaying the deadline to respond to the census until April 30, 2021. In addition, we urge you to support their request that Congress assign an independent, apolitical institution to develop metrics for judging whether the final census numbers are reasonably accurate and, if not, determine the next necessary steps to meet that important constitutional responsibility. Failure to extend the census will result in seriously incomplete enumerations in many areas across our country, and that would be especially harmful to Texans.

Sincerely,

Rep. Alma Allen

Rep. Rafael Anchía

Rep. Michelle Beckley

Rep. Diego Bernal

Rep. Lorraine Birabil

Rep. Cesar Blanco

Rep. Rhetta Bowers

Rep. John Bucy

Rep. Gina Calanni

Rep. Terry Canales

Rep. Sheryl Cole

Rep. Garnet Coleman

Rep. Nicole Collier

Rep. Philip Cortez

Rep. Yvonne Davis

Rep. Joe Deshotel

Rep. Alex Dominguez

Rep. Harold Dutton

Rep. Anna Eastman

Rep. Art Fierro

Rep. Barbara Gervin-Hawkins

Rep. Jessica González

Rep. Mary González

Rep. Vicki Goodwin

Rep. Bobby Guerra

Rep. Ryan Guillen

Rep. Roland Gutierrez

Rep. Ana Hernadez

Rep. Abel Herrero

Rep. Gina Hinojosa

Rep. Donna Howard

Rep. Celia Israel

Rep. Jarvis Johnson

Rep. Julie Johnson

Rep. Tracy King

Rep. Oscar Longoria

Rep. Ray Lopez

Rep. Eddie Lucio, III

Rep. Armando Martinez

Rep. Trey Martinez-Fischer

Rep. Terry Meza

Rep. Ina Minjarez

Rep. Joe Moody

Rep. Christina Morales

Rep. Sergio Muñoz, Jr.

Rep. Victoria Neave

Rep. Poncho Nevárez

Rep. Lina Ortega

Rep. Leo Pacheco

Rep. Mary Ann Perez

Rep. Ana-Maria Ramos

Rep. Richard Peña Raymond

Rep. Ron Reynolds

Rep. Eddie Rodriguez

Rep. Ramon Romero

Rep. Toni Rose

Rep. Jon Rosenthal

Rep. Carl Sherman

Rep. James Talarico

Rep. Shawn Thierry

Rep. Senfronia Thompson

Rep. Chris Turner

Rep. John Turner

Rep. Hubert Vo

Rep. Armando Walle

Rep. Gene Wu

Rep. Erin Zwiener

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news story shows state Rep. Ryan Guillen, the dean of the Rio Grande Valley’s delegation in the Texas House of Representatives.


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