Nation’s Largest Faith-Based Network Launches Campaign to Increase 2020 U.S. Census Participation
As SCOTUS considers Trump Administration’s push to ask U.S. residents if they are citizens, Faith in Action urges all Americans to stand up to intimidation tactics and be counted
WASHINGTON — Faith in Action, the nation’s largest faith-based community organizing network, has launched a campaign to increase census participation in historically undercounted communities, including immigrants, communities of color and children.
The #EveryoneCounts campaign kicked off in a media call yesterday. as communities across the country await the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case Department of Commerce v. New York. The case challenges the Trump Administration’s attempts to include a question about citizenship status in the 2020 U.S. Census.
Listen to a recording of the call here:
“While the court should rule that this question is unconstitutional, as the census must equally count all people, not just citizens, we are encouraging the immigrant community not to give in to the anti-immigrant tactics of the Trump Administration,” said the Rev. Alvin Herring, executive director of Faith in Action. “A fair and accurate census is necessary to have a functioning country. As people of faith, making sure all communities participate in the census is a reflection of the dignity and worth of each life. African Americans and Latinx households have been undercounted for decades due to low participation, particularly in households with mixed status individuals who fear deportation.”
Campaign leaders will mobilize faith communities across the country to reach out to undercounted constituencies in an effort to encourage participation. The campaign will include congregation-level trainings as well as a national push to ensure census participants are protected from retaliation and an equitable, just administration of the census.
“We are seeing the census being used to erase entire communities,” said Andrea Marta, interim campaigns director for Faith in Action. “We are uniquely positioned to do this work within our congregations and clergy who are trusted messengers with communities of color. Our #EveryoneCounts campaign is specifically focused on those who have been undercounted and even excluded from participating in the census. The information submitted to census takers is confidential and no one should feel intimidated by the census employees or politicians who want to lessen the count by excluding communities of color.”
Call participants noted that the census is the foundation of our democracy, providing data for making important decisions that affect all American lives and families, including how federal money is divided across the country to pay for better schools and health care, for example, and how districting lines will be drawn so that all communities have fair representation at all levels of government.
“The collection of accurate, comprehensive race and ethnicity data – as well as data on gender, age, and household composition in the census – is central to implementing, monitoring, and evaluating many civil rights laws and policies, including equal opportunity and access across all economic and social sectors of society, such as housing and the job market,” said Bishop Frank M. Reid III of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. “This is why it is important for communities of color and immigrants to participate and claim their equal rights of representation under the founding principles of our government.”
Call participants also addressed the pending Supreme Court decision on the inclusion of a citizenship question, noting that the concern among immigrants that the census might be used to deport them was not a new fear.
“We want to make sure that if the citizenship question is included on the census that we start educating children of immigrant parents. Children often act as their parents’ translators, and parents look to their children for accurate information. We have to make sure that our communities know that the census is part of their being represented,” said Catalina Morales, lead organizer for ISAIAH, a Faith in Action federation in Minnesota. “We’re very concerned about the census question around citizenship. This concern didn’t start today or when the question was introduced because, in general, immigrants have seen the census as a way for the government to know where they are and fear that it might be used for deportation, myself included. I am a DACA-recipient and I’ve been in the country for about 25 years now. My family has never filled out the census. This will be the first time we will actually participate.”
John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, discussed the particular challenge for the Asian community in the United States. “For the Asian American community, we grew by 46 percent between the 2000-2010 census and that growth has continued going into 2020,” said Yang. “It’s important to remember that we have over 50 different ethnic groups speaking more than 100 languages. Our community is largely immigrants, or children of immigrants; possibly one-in-six Asian Americans have never participated in the census. Regardless of whether the citizenship questions is on the census, we will be counted in 2020. It is going to be critical for all of our communities to be counted fairly and accurately.”
On Thursday, June 20 at 1 p.m. EDT, Faith in Action will host a Twitter chat on the census as a part of the #EveryoneCounts campaign. Public participation is encouraged to join in the discussion by following Faith in Action on Twitter and by using the #EveryoneCountsChat hashtag. The chat will feature Pastor Michael McBride (@pastormycmac), director of LIVE FREE and Urban Strategies for Faith in Action; Andrea Marta (@AndreaLMarta), interim national campaigns director for Faith in Action; and Julio Acosta (@JulioAcosta85), organizer with Faith in Texas, a local federation of Faith in Action.
Faith in Action, formerly known as PICO National Network, is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. The nonpartisan organization works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 46 local and state federations. For more information, visit www.faithinaction.org.
Faith in Action is a 501c(3). Faith in Action and its affiliates are non-partisan and are not aligned explicitly or implicitly with any candidate or party. We do not endorse or support candidates for office.