Census 2020 NJ Coalition Hails Big Wins for Census: State Funding, No Citizenship Question, State Commission Plan Published
New Jersey (July 3, 2019) The Census 2020 NJ Coalition is excited to announce three big Census developments that will provide a boost to New Jersey’s efforts for a complete count in the 2020 Census. The Census 2020 NJ Coalition, a statewide outreach and awareness campaign established to coordinate non-profit and community-based efforts to ensure an accurate 2020 Census count, will continue its efforts to get every New Jerseyan counted.
State Approves $9 Million Appropriation for Census Outreach
First, the New Jersey state budget signed into law by Governor Murphy on June 30th includes $9 million in state funding for Census outreach. The Coalition advocated for these funds to assist local and state groups to educate and organize communities in preparation for the 2020 Census. These funds will help reach the 22 percent of New Jersey residents (1.9 million) who live in hard-to-count areas, including a disproportionate number of Black, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian residents, as well as children under age five. The Coalition is hopeful that these funds will be used to support local Complete Count Committees and the community-based organizations, nonprofits and faith-based organizations that will serve as trusted messengers for Census information.
“As states like California, Illinois and Maryland have recognized, community-based organizations and local efforts will be critical to any Census outreach effort,” said Peter Chen, Policy Counsel at Advocates for Children of New Jersey and coordinator for the Census 2020 NJ Coalition. “The Coalition looks forward to a quick turnaround of the $9 million in state funding to communities with outreach plans that engage organizations already in contact with hard-to-count communities.”
“As an immigrant, as a grandmother of seven kids, and as a resident of one of the most Hard to Count communities in New Jersey, I applaud Gov Murphy and the New Jersey state legislature for investing $9 million – a dollar per resident – in the 2020 census. We thank Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez and Senator Nilsa Cruz Pérez for their leadership. With the welcome news that the citizenship question will stricken for the census, we can now focus on a complete count of all New Jerseyans – regardless of age, gender, immigration status or ethnicity. We all count, no matter where we were born, and we demand respect, representation and dignity for our families,” said Carmen Torres member of Make the Road New Jersey and resident of Passaic, NJ.
Census Bureau Removes Citizenship Question from Census Form
In a surprising but welcome decision on July 2, the Census Bureau has formally requested the printing of 2020 Census forms without the citizenship question. This decision ended uncertainty around the citizenship question on the Census. The Secretary of Commerce’s statement added that the department’s focus “is to conduct a complete and accurate census.” Census advocates will ensure that the Bureau is held to that goal. The removal of the citizenship question will go a long way to ensuring that all New Jersey residents are counted in 2020, especially the roughly 22 percent of residents who were born outside the United States.
“We’re pleased the Census forms will be printed without the discriminatory citizenship question,” said Patricia D. Williamson, Director of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice’s New Jersey Counts Project, which is primarily focused on Census outreach to Black communities. “Thanks to all of our partners and advocates who made this happen. The damage from the concerns surrounding the inclusion of the citizenship question remains substantial, especially against the backdrop of an already disquieting undercount of people of color and immigrants. We still have our work cut out for us to educate hard-to-count vulnerable communities of color about the importance of completing the Census. Our Coalition is up to the task to acquiring a full and accurate count in 2020.”
Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director, Asian American Federation said, “We are greatly encouraged that the Census Bureau has finalized the printing of the 2020 Census without the citizenship question. We believe this is a monumental victory for immigrant communities. However, while we’ve overcome this hurdle, we must continue to push for equity in Census funding and participation. We remain committed to raising awareness about the importance of the Census in hard-to-count Asian communities.”
“The League is thrilled to see the citizenship question officially dropped. For more than a year, the threat of this question has instilled fear in our communities. It is now time to get to work repairing the damage and ensuring everyone is counted. Our democracy depends on it,” said Jesse Burns, Executive Director, League of Women Voters of New Jersey.
State Complete Count Outreach Plan Released
The New Jersey Complete Count Commission, a state commission convened to plan New Jersey’s governmental Census outreach, has released its first report. (Link here) The report outlines the importance of the Census for New Jersey and the State’s proposed Census outreach strategy, informed by the Commission’s three public hearings.
As the Coalition advocated, the strategy focuses heavily on building local complete count efforts in hard-to-count communities throughout the state. Communities from across the state, from Paterson to Cumberland County, have created Local Complete Count Committees. These committees include representatives from local government, nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, libraries, school systems, and other key community stakeholders, to identify obstacles to a complete count in their community and develop strategies and programs to overcome those obstacles.
The Census 2020 NJ Coalition’s membership includes groups focusing on outreach to different hard-to-count populations, such as Advocates for Children of New Jersey (children under five), Asian American Federation (Asian residents), Latino Action Network Foundation (Hispanic/Latinx residents), League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Make the Road NJ (immigrants), New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (black residents and urban areas) and Wind of the Spirit (immigrants).