A group of Queens lawmakers and community leaders spoke Tuesday in downtown Flushing urging passage of a bill in Albany that would improve accurate counting in the upcoming 2020 Census.
The legislation, which already passed in the assembly and is now before the senate, would create the 2020 Complete Count Commission that would review the problems behind under counting in the 2010 Census and mobilize resources for an accurate count in the next census.
Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Whitestone, Flushing, and Murray Hill) explained the consequences of previous census surveys in neighborhoods such as Flushing. The lack of an accurate count makes it difficult to assist people, including those living in poverty, he said.
“We don’t have the dollars, the program money, the resources to support them. The core reason why is that every 10 years we need to count these individuals. So we’re leaving billions and billions behind, and losing Congressional seats because we’re not counting people in our community,” Kim said.
Officials also denounced Justice Department efforts to add a question relating to citizenship on the upcoming census. This may cause some people to decline taking the census out of fear, leading to more problems such as lack of adequate funding for programs.
“The undercount [in the 2010 Census] we believe was 600,000 New Yorkers, 300,000 of which came from New York City” said Assemblymember Marcus Crespo (D-Bronx). “We know each person undercounted amounts to $3,000 plus in federal funding losses, which amounts to $1.8 billion.”
State Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Bay Terrace, Bayside, Beechhurst, Clearview Gardens, Flushing, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Hillcrest, Elmhurst, Whitestone, Woodside, Fresh Meadows), a co-sponsor of the State Assembly bill, referred to her time as a census district manager and explained the importance of ensuring everyone in her district were accurately counted.
“[For those] in Washington, they’ve got to recognize that everybody has to be counted. Not just the people who they want to count, but everybody must be counted,” she said.
Community leaders also called for lawmakers in the senate to pass the bill, especially with what they see as an anti-immigrant climate in Washington. Korean American Civic Empowerment President Dongchan Kim highlighted the idea of one person equals one vote that ensures accurate representation.
“Without a proper census process, immigrant communities and those with a language barrier have a great risk of being disenfranchised from our society,” Kim said.
City Councilmember Francisco Moya (D-East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Corona) called for unity among lawmakers to guarantee residents receive the benefits they deserve.
“We need to make sure we get the proper funding here so we can get the right counting so that all New Yorkers have their voices heard,” he said.