As Latinos Are Among Hardest Hit by Pandemic, Leaders Expect Federal Census Undercount

May 20, 2020
5:12 PM

(Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Texas, the 34th congressional district which is said to have the highest percentage of Latinos in the country, is far behind in its census tally. Representative Filemon Vela, D-Texas, and other Latino leaders recently told The Hill that census outreach was a top priority in predominantly-Latino South Texas before the pandemic struck.

Now, the pandemic and other challenges threaten to result in an undercount of Latinos in Texas and across the U.S. The NALEO Educational Fund had already previously reported that the response rates in the community have been below the national rate. 

“And then, boom! The COVID came and our efforts have been totally redirected to constituent services,” Vela told The Hill. “We’re working on basic stuff, making sure people are fed,” she added.

Latinos have been among the hardest hit by the rates of infection and death from COVID-19, as well as massive job losses tied to the pandemic. Nationwide, nearly 18.9 percent of Latinos are out of work, as compared to 14.7 percent of the U.S. population overall. 

Before the pandemic hit, The Urban Institute estimated more than 2 million Latinos could be missed in the 2020 census count, costing the communities where they live billions in federal funding.

The Trump administration also tried but failed to add a citizenship question to the form, leading many immigrants to fear their information could be shared with federal immigration authorities. The Supreme Court flatly rejected Trump’s push to add a citizenship question to the census, but NALEO says many Latinos still mistakenly believe the census includes a citizenship question. A representative of NALEO said the organization’s own efforts to ensure Latinos are counted have been impacted by the pandemic.

The Census Bureau’s original deadline for people to complete the once-a-decade count of every person in the U.S. was extended to October 31. The 2020 census can be completed online, by telephone, or by mail. Every household in the country, regardless of immigration status, is entitled to fill out the census.

Poll: 1 in 4 Latinos Know Someone Who Has COVID-19

A new poll conducted by the national polling firm Latino Decisions found that 1 in 4 Latinos in the U.S. know someone who has been infected with COVID-19, and 67 percent of those surveyed say President Trump ignored early warnings a pandemic was coming and his delay in responding is the reason so many Americans died.

These are among the key findings of a new national survey conducted by Latino Decisions on behalf of SOMOS, UnidosUS and MoveOn of Latino adults across the country.

Among Latinos who know someone who’s been infected by the coronavirus, 1 in 3 said they know someone who has died from the virus, the poll found.

Latinos and African American communities have been among the hardest hit in the nation by the virus. In Chicago, for instance, 42 percent of those infected with COVID-19 are Latino.

“More disconcerting is the fact that a startling high percentage of Latinos, 27 percent, report that they know someone who wants a test, but has been unable to get tested,” read a press statement by Latino Decisions.

According to the poll, 80 percent of Latinos want Congress to do more to protect “all immigrant families” —including undocumented immigrants— “and ensure loans will be provided to Latino-owned small businesses.”

Millions of Latino families and businesses missed out on getting any support in the $1T CARES Act, the last major economic stimulus bill passed by Congress.

“Overall, 31 percent of U.S.-born Latinos and 45 percent of immigrants said they did not receive any stimulus checks at all,” the poll found.

On Friday, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed a $3T bill to pump more resources in the U.S. economy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has said the bill is “dead on arrival,” and President Trump has threatened to veto the measure.

Asked whether they trust President Trump to address the crisis resulting from the global pandemic, Latinos gave the president a failing grade. 

On a scale of 1 to 10, according to the poll, “[Trump’s] trust index is 3.27 out of 10… Moreover, 67 percent of Latinos say Trump ignored early warnings and his delays are the reason so many Americans died.”

Regarding the upcoming November general election, “62 percent of Latinos say they are certain to vote, down from a high of 73 percent in February 2020.”

For its poll, Latino Decisions interviewed 1,829 Latino adults nationwide from May 10 to May 16.

DACA Decision by Supreme Court Expected Soon, 800k DREAMers Could Face Deportation

The Supreme Court has ended oral arguments for the 2019-2020 term, leaving some 800,000 DACA recipients, commonly known as DREAMers, anxiously awaiting a decision on whether President Trump’s order to abolish their temporary legal immigration status will be upheld.

DREAMers are undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. President Obama granted them Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012. Three federal district courts have blocked an end to the program, prompting the Supreme Court review.

Some 29,000 Dreamers are said to be working on the front lines as health care providers battling the coronavirus and tens of thousands more are employed as essential workers across the nation, according to a recent report by the Center for American Progress.

A decision on DACA and other key court cases, including whether the State of New York and the U.S. House of Representatives can review President Trump’s tax returns, is expected between now and June.

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