By Kyle Bragg and George Gresham
New Yorkers: President Trump doesn’t want you to fill out the Census. He tried to add a citizenship question to the census in an attempt to scare immigrants and people of color from filling it out. When he was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court, he cut down the time we have to fill out the census by a month. And even after a federal judge ruled to allow the deadline to go through the end of October. Trump-appointed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the census would end on October 5. To the Trump administration, the confusion around the census deadline is the point. It is designed to confuse people into not filling out the census.
Why is Donald Trump trying to keep us from being counted? Because he wants to starve communities of color.
The census determines how $800 billion in Federal funding is distributed to our states. It also determines how many House Representatives we get. If New Yorkers are undercounted, we could lose out on billions in desperately-needed funding and our voice in Washington could be weakened. And just like with the COVID-19 pandemic, those of us who can least afford it – immigrants and people of color – will be the ones to suffer the most.
200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and millions more are now facing food insecurity and poverty. Just a few months ago, our city was the global epicenter of the virus. Healthcare workers risked their lives caring for patients without the PPE needed to keep them or their families safe. New Yorkers heard the roaring death knells of ambulance sirens 24/7. We saw our co-workers and neighbors carried away in body bags. All the while, the president of the United States lied and ignored our suffering.
Donald Trump has been caught on tape saying he knew the virus was dangerous and airborne all the way back in February. But he left us to die.
Heading into colder months and a possible second wave of the virus, there is still no coherent Federal response. Donald Trump’s inept leadership has left states competing for resources, without sufficient PPE or streamlined testing.
New Yorkers will keep fighting. We are strong and we will not be counted out. We will rebound and rebuild, just like we always have. Part of our fight will be for the federal funding we need to rebuild our economy and keep New Yorkers safe. And we can’t get that funding unless we’re counted in the census.
Census data impacts our everyday lives. It determines where schools are built, which roads get paved, and funding for educational and health care resources. Many communities are already underserved in terms of access to medical treatment and care. If our census participation plummets by even a percentage point, we could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to provide life-saving medications to seniors and children, improve our schools, fix our deteriorating roads, and fund the MTA.
Black and Latinx communities have historically been undercounted in the U.S. Census, which means an undercount would make us miss out on valuable resources that our communities need. According to a study in the USA Today, in almost two-thirds of all census tracts, fewer people provided initial responses this year than in 2010.
Here in New York City, 1.6 million households have yet to fill out the census. That means Donald Trump is winning.
Completing a census form helps us get the resources we need from the Federal government and the representation that we deserve from elected officials who reflect our communities, have walked in our shoes and understand the challenges we face every day. It’s how we work together to ensure our friends, family and neighbors get the programs and funding we deserve. It’s how we fight for more Federal resources for communities of color.
Take a stand against Donald Trump—fill out the census before the October 5 deadline. It’s easy – it takes five minutes and it’s online. And while you are there, register to vote, make your plan to vote, and make sure your friends and family do the same. Don’t let Donald Trump count NYC out.
Kyle Bragg is the President of 32BJ SEIU, the union representing 85,000 building service workers in the New York metro area and 175,000 members in 11 states and Washington, D.C.
George Gresham is President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, which represents 450,000 members in NY, MA, NJ, MD, FL and the District of Columbia. 1199SEIU is the largest and fastest growing healthcare union in the nation.