Santa Clara County said it will set up Census 2020 kiosks at pop-up COVID-19 testing sites to mitigate the effects of President Donald Trump’s claim that he will exclude undocumented immigrants from the counts used in congressional redistricting.
The kiosks are part of a larger effort to ensure that all county residents are counted and will provide tablets for people waiting to get tested to fill out the census on the spot.
“Our team is committed to make sure we have a full count here in Santa Clara County because that is our right,” said Nick Kuwada, manager of the county’s Census 2020 Program. “When you fill out the census, you are helping yourself, you are helping your community, especially in this time of COVID-19.”
Thirty percent of households in Santa Clara County have not yet participated in this year’s census, according to the county.
“It is plainly illegal to try to discount some people as people. Even saying the sentence shows its absurdity and its immorality.”James Williams, Santa Clara County counsel
“Right now, we are using 2010 data to distribute COVID-19 resources and I can tell you that the effects of this pandemic range far beyond the next couple of years,” Kuwada said. “We need to be prepared, make sure our voice is heard and get the money we deserve so we can have equitable relief here in Santa Clara County.”
Census data determines the funding the county receives and its government representation. Funding is used for schools, roads and hospitals, among many other public resources.
Last week, Trump signed a memo that seeks to have the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees the Census Bureau, count only citizens and certain immigrants when determining congressional seats, but it won’t have any practical impact because the U.S. Census does not ask whether immigrants are undocumented, and federal law bars the use of estimates in redistricting.
In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the administration’s efforts to place a citizenship question on the census.
“As we look across the country, we have watched on a national level the President of the United States try to erase voices,” Supervisor Cindy Chavez said. “Whether you are a citizen or not, making sure we are not erased is really important.”
Santa Clara County has about 200,000 undocumented residents, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center study. Discounting undocumented county residents would mean excluding 10 percent of the population.
Information collected by the census is kept confidential, ensuring undocumented residents are not at risk if they participate, according to Deputy County Executive David Campos.
“To make it very clear, the motivations behind the president’s memo are purely political,” said Efraín Delgado from the Asian Law Alliance. “He seeks to suppress census participation in order to skew the congressional map.”
The Asian Law Alliance is one of the nonprofits and community organizations that have teamed with the county to encourage more Census participation.
“It is plainly illegal to try to discount some people as people. Even saying the sentence shows its absurdity and its immorality,” County Counsel James Williams said. “We will continue to fight to ensure that this administration does adhere to our Constitution and our values and actions that it takes, like this one, are held accountable and struck down.”
On March 12, invitations to participate in the census were mailed to all households. The census questionnaire can be completed until Oct. 31, including extensions provided to compensate for impacts of the pandemic.
For households that have not completed the census, Census Bureau employees will begin in-person interviews at people’s homes starting Aug. 11.
Residents can complete the 2020 Census Questionnaire by visiting my2020census.gov any time or by calling 844-330-2020, toll-free.