As 2020 Census Nears End, Participation Crucial for Immigrant, Minority Communities in St. Louis County

 

St. Louis County, MO (September 3, 2020) – Census takers in St. Louis County are following up with households that have not yet submitted responses to the 2020 Census prior to the September 30 deadline. Participation in the 2020 Census is crucial for the diverse communities represented by St. Louis County.

The St. Louis region has the third-fastest growing foreign-born population in the United States – including more than seven percent of County residents. Yet concerns in immigrant communities regarding participation have led to historical underrepresentation in the census.

“The goal of the census is to accurately reflect the demographics of our communities, including every resident, regardless of citizenship status,” said County Executive Dr. Sam Page. “Census participation is a critical tool to get federal funding and resources to historically marginalized communities – tools they need to succeed.”

Federal financial support is based off population statistics from the Census Bureau. These calculations enable the federal government to more efficiently direct resources toward community improvements like schools, housing, job training, and economic development. Census numbers are also used to determine representation in Congress, legislatures, and local governments, including where to make election materials available in languages other than English.

“The census counts the entire population in America so we can form a more perfect, and representative, union. This is especially important for St. Louis County, as we are made stronger because of the diverse communities here,” said Kenny Murdock, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for St Louis County. “All backgrounds, origins, and identities are en-couraged to be counted so that we can build an inclusive future for St. Louis County.”

Responses to census questions cannot legally be used against individuals in any way. Responses are confidential and pro-tected by the strongest national privacy laws. The census form does not ask about citizenship status. No other government agency, including ICE, law enforcement, housing authority, or courts, can access any individual’s census answers.

“Current self-response rate in St. Louis County is doing well at more than 74 percent, but we must strive for more, espe-cially with what’s at stake,” said Ethel Byndom, Community Empowerment Director and County Census Coordinator. “Responding to the 2020 Census is so important as Census funding will be pivotal in helping to rebound from a post-Covid-19 economy.”

If a census taker visits in person, they are easily identified by a government-issued Census ID badge with their photo-graph. Census takers are hired from local communities and many are bilingual. If the census taker does not speak the household’s preferred language, they may request a return visit from a census taker who shares their primary language. If no one is home at the time of the census taker’s visit, information will be left behind on how to participate online or by phone. People are encouraged to respond to census takers and ensure that everyone who was living in the household as of April 1, 2020 is counted in their answers.

Households can respond through September 30, 2020 by completing the questionnaire by mail, by responding online at 2020census.gov, or by phone at 844-330-2020. Assistance is available in more than 13 languages online and on the phone.