Census data from early 2020 raises fears of possible Latino Asian undercount
Early numbers from the Census Bureau’s 2020 nationwide demographic snapshot have left experts and advocacy groups worried that their worst fears have come true — that people of color, especially Asian Americans and Latin Americans, be underestimated.
“The total number of resident residents was at the lower end of the estimates, and several states with large Latin American populations did not do as well. And unfortunately, that, to me, suggests too much coincidence,” Arturo Vargas said. , CEO of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed.
“If the census numbers are wrong, then the amount of funding going to areas with large Latin American populations” means they “won’t get their fair share,” he said. “And that’s a mistake of 10 years. It’s not just next year. It’s for the next decade.”
Last month, the Census Bureau released the long-awaited state population totals that determine each state’s House seat count, with just seven seats moving between 13 states – the smallest change since adoption. of the current congressional distribution model in the 1940s.
Arizona, Florida and Texas — states with large Latin American populations — each ended up with one less House seat than expected. California and New York, which also have large Latino populations, each lost a seat. The fact that Arizona didn’t get a seat was one of the biggest surprises, as the state grew by more than 766,000 people since the 2010 census. It didn’t get an additional seat. for the first time since 1950.
Experts and advocates closely monitoring the release, like Vargas, have expressed deep concern about the quality and completeness of the data so far, given the unique challenges the bureau faced in completing the report. critical tally, including a truncated timeline, a pandemic, and a litany. legal battles stemming from President Donald Trump’s failed attempts to add a citizenship question to the form.
Some groups are considering additional legal challenges and plan to pressure state legislatures and redistricting commissions to view what the office releases with skepticism — even as the government urges patience.
Karen Battle, head of the Census Bureau’s population division, said people should wait for more data and not jump to conclusions based on the state’s April population totals.
“It is too early to speculate on undercounts for any specific demographic,” she said in a statement, adding that the redistricting data expected to be released in August “will contain the first information on race and ethnicity” in detail. She also said the bureau’s post-census survey would provide more demographic information.
Demographic data expected to be released later this year will help determine how federal money for roads, schools and other public works projects is distributed across the country.
Still, experts say early concerns are warranted, in part because that tally was mired in controversy and because historically the bureau has recognized that minority groups — indigenous tribes, the fast-growing Latino population, Asian Americans and Black Americans – are underappreciated due to language barriers and because they live in rural areas or communities with limited internet access. This was the first census that allowed people to fill out forms online.
“The short-term problem we face is that the breakdown numbers are just raw counts at the state level. They tell us nothing about the racial and ethnic characteristics of the people who were counted, and there has these open questions as to whether even the total national population or the state [totals] disclosed to us are accurate,” said Tom Wolf, an attorney at New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice.
“But even if they were completely accurate, it would still be necessary to keep a close eye on racial and ethnic differential undercount issues in the future,” he said.
Varun Nikore, head of the AAPI Victory Alliance, which mobilizes Asian American and Pacific Islander voters for Democrats, said the group is closely monitoring the data as it comes out and may take legal action if it does. he believes that the actions of the Trump administration have suppressed Asian American participation. .
The Asian population is the fastest growing segment of eligible voters, according to the Pew Research Center. The population nearly doubled from 2000 to 2019 – from 11.9 million to 23.2 million – and is expected to exceed 46 million by 2060. However, Asia’s most populous states, California, New York and Texas , lost a seat in the House or gained less. than what was planned.
He said there was a “double fear factor” among Asian Americans as hate crimes against the community increased, white supremacy grew and anti-immigration fervor intensified during the war. coronavirus pandemic. He said language barriers, particularly among Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese communities, could also have been a factor.
“You can see what kind of effect it has,” he said. “So frankly, I think our community would have been one of the hardest hit, maybe not in sheer numbers, but because we have the fastest growth and probably the fastest naturalization in this country,” he said. which would have “more deleterious effect”. effect on AAPIs.”
The release of the first census data was so disturbing to national racial justice and civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, which represents more than 53 million people, that they sent a memo asking the Biden administration to be careful leveraging federal data, including census counts, to ensure the undercounted are not left behind and to “achieve the goals of ‘fairness of the president’.
Diana Elliott, a researcher at the nonpartisan Urban Institute who has studied census undercounts in minority communities, said it was too early to tell where the undercounts would fall, but she said they would have a lasting effect on communities and the resources they all need. as the country recovers economically from Covid-19.
“I think caution is really the word of the day, because it’s unclear if, for example, there could be something in the way the projections were made that were misaligned with the count,” said she declared. “I will just say that we can’t really tell from the data, but these concerns are well deserved.
“If you think about the communities that tend to be underestimated, those are the communities that are often the most in need of resources,” she added. “So it really begs this question about fairness and how things are distributed in our country.”