GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids is working to combat messaging surrounding the 2020 census to get more immigrant families to participate.
“I don’t think people understand the trauma that the Latinx community has gone through since the 2016 election,” Bo Torres of the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan said.
He said many people are afraid to engage in day-to-day life and worry that if they respond to a citizenship question, their information will be used against them.
“When you add another layer of information gathering to a very vulnerable population, that’s going to cause the concern that we have now,” Torres explained.
The city says it is concerned about a few neighborhoods near Garfield Avenue and on the southeast and southwest sides, areas that have already routinely reported at lower census response rates.
“The response rate has been a bit lower in neighborhoods with large immigrant populations,” Grand Rapids development center manager Louis Canfield said. “It’s been a challenge in the past and it’s a bigger challenge this time.”
Officials are worried that too few people will fill out the form, which would affect the amount of federal funding the city receives.
“It’s only once every 10 years, so we don’t get many chances to get it right and it determines the strength of our community’s political voice both in Lansing and D.C.,” Canfield said.
Canfield said the city started the Complete Count Committee to combat the potentially inaccurate count.
It says it plans to send workers to knock on doors as soon as it has census brochures and information printed. It wants to make sure everyone understands that personal information cannot and will not be shared with other agencies.