Border Reps request meeting with Census Bureau director over undercount – Rio Grande Guardian

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Four of the five members of Congress that represent the Texas-Mexico border have requested a meeting with the director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Robert Santos.

The four are U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar of Laredo, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of Brownsville, U.S. Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen,, and U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar of El Paso. The fifth member, U.S. Rep. Ton Gonzales of San Antonio, did not sign the letter.

The four members that did sign the letter want to discuss what they believe was a undercount in the 2020 Census. They believe it was particularly bad along the border. They wrote:

“Unfortunately, undercounts are not unusual. Populations along the U.S.- Mexico border region are particularly difficult to reach, especially Hispanic families living in isolated rural colonias. The border colonias were among some of the most undercounted regions in the 2010 census and there are concerns the 2020 census undercount could be similarly large. However, it is important that we work to resolve this issue. Therefore, we request a meeting with you to discuss this issue further. Thank you for taking the time to consider our concerns. We look forward to your response.”

Here is the letter in full:


January 10th, 2022

The Honorable Robert Santos

Director

U.S. Census Bureau

4600 Silver Hill Road

Washington, D.C. 20233

Dear Director Santos:

The 2020 U.S. Census was conducted during a major pandemic while the previous Administration made several attempts to depress census participation. This caused significant challenges for the U.S. Census Bureau and greatly exacerbated the undercount of persons of color. The question now is how large the undercount will be and how it will affect the fair allocation of federal resources.

As you know, the decennial census is used for a variety of purposes including the allocation of federal funding and congressional seats. An accurate count is critical to ensuring that federal resources are fairly distributed. The census has long struggled to count communities of color — especially Black and Latino communities. This affects the distribution of Federal resources to communities that most need them.

As noted by the George Washington Institute of Public Policy in its report “Counting for Dollars 2020 – The Role of the Decennial Census in the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds,” about 300 federal programs geographically allocate over $800 billion a year based on census-derived statistics. In FY2015, 37 states forfeited a measurable amount of Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) funds for each person missed in the 2010 census. (The five FMAP-guided programs are Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Title IV-E Foster Care, Title IV-E Adoption Assistance, and the Child Care and Development Fund.) In Texas, this translated to a loss of $1,161 per person.

Furthermore, an Urban Institute simulation of the 2020 census offers insights on the 2020 census’ accuracy and utility. In Urban Institute’s simulated 2020 census model, some states had higher percentages of miscounts than others. The true total population of Texas was undercounted in Urban’s simulated 2020 census by 1.28 percent. Because Texas has such a large population, this means that potentially 377,187 residents in the true population of Texas were not counted in the 2020 census. This undercount will have a significant impact on Texas for the next decade. Texas residents will receive less of their fair share of federal funding for infrastructure, health care, and children’s programs. Texas notably would miss an estimated $247 million in federal reimbursements for Medicaid in 2021.

Unfortunately, undercounts are not unusual. Populations along the U.S.- Mexico border region are particularly difficult to reach, especially Hispanic families living in isolated rural colonias. The border colonias were among some of the most undercounted regions in the 2010 census and there are concerns the 2020 census undercount could be similarly large. However, it is important that we work to resolve this issue. Therefore, we request a meeting with you to discuss this issue further. Thank you for taking the time to consider our concerns. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar

U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar


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