New México immigrant rights group, Somos Un Pueblo Unido joined a nationwide lawsuit to block the Trump administration from adding a question regarding citizenship to the 2020 U.S. Census that could cost rural communities billions in federal funding by undercounting its growing Latino and immigrant populations.
The lawsuit was filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) in federal court on behalf of several community-based and voter’s rights groups throughout the country.
“An undercount, even a small one, in New México could cost us millions of dollars in federal funding for crucial social programs.”
Marcela Díaz, Somos Un Pueblo Unido
In March, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a memo announcing its decision to include a question about every person’s citizenship status. The announcement came amid an uptick in ICE enforcement activities in New México and more aggressive tactics at businesses, courthouses, and in neighborhoods. The question has been widely decried by community-based organizations and researchers claiming that it would deter hard-to-count communities from participating in the Census, especially Latinos and immigrants who are already on edge and feeling targeted by federal agencies.
“An undercount, even a small one, in New México could cost us millions of dollars in federal funding for crucial social programs,” said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, New México’s only organizational plaintiff in the lawsuit. “It would also undercut political representation of growing Latino and immigrant populations in New México’s rural communities. Adding this question is another attempt by the Trump administration to attack our families and erase our contributions to the communities we call home. We must push back because the stakes are too high.”
New México is already vulnerable to a census undercount because of its high percentage of hard- to-count communities, including immigrants, rural residents, and Native Americans.
Approximately 6 billion in federal dollars to New México over the next ten years depend on an accurate count. And according to a report from the New México Geospatial Advisory Committee, an undercount as small as 1 percent could cost New México $600 million in federal monies.
“We are working hard to engage Latinos in the political process as part of Viva el Voto, our citizenship and voter registration campaign in southeastern New México,” said Carmen Quiñones, a long-time member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido who has lived in Roswell for 11 years, has three U.S. citizens children, and whose husband works in the dairy industry. “People are already afraid of the federal government because of ICE’s increased presence and enforcement in our area. If they don’t participate in the Census, it will mean fewer programs for our children and it will weaken our political voice.”
An accurate Census count is especially critical to rural communities where Latinos and immigrants are driving growth, and in New México there are several counties where this is the