This year won't just focus on the number of Latino immigrants
who have come to Ohio and perhaps decided to stay as they work
the farm fields. The official 2020 population head count also
will include a new demographic—individuals and families from
Puerto Rico who fled Hurricane Maria and will settle in
the states permanently.
For example, in Ohio, according to a proclamation issued by
Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz declaring June as
Immigrant Heritage Month locally, the city lost one percent of
its population between 2000 and 2010, while its immigrant
population increased by 21 percent. The proclamation also
declares that Toledo has “a responsibility…to ensure that our
great city is a welcoming place for all people to live without
To ensure minorities in hard-to-reach communities are counted,
the Ohio Census Advocacy Coalition (OCAC) is pressuring
the Ohio Senate to add $1.1 million to the state budget proposal
to beef up the communications and outreach strategy of the Ohio
Department of Administrative Services (DAS), the agency that
oversees state census efforts.
The group’s timing may be just right, as Gov. Mike DeWine
is adjusting his biennial budget proposal to reflect robust tax
collections during the month of May, continuing a trend of
growing state coffers and money available to spend on additional
programs. The OCAC wants to see the extra money go toward grants
to nonprofit organizations in hard-to-count (HTC) communities to
fund get-out-the-count mobilization efforts and grants to local
complete count committees to fund localized communication and
outreach to their residents. However, the Ohio Senate is
expected to release its own budget proposal in the next week or
Advocates for Basic Legal
has spent the better part of the year encouraging immigrants
from Toledo to Dayton to apply for citizenship, reaching out
directly to permanent residents who hold green cards and have
lived in the U.S. for at least five years. ABLE is selling the
possibility those people could become citizens in time to be
eligible to vote in the 2020 election. But those residents also
would be counted as citizens in next year’s census as well.
There are genuine fears of a serious census undercount of the
country’s Latino population for a number of reasons. First, US-Americans
for the first time will be able to respond to the 2020 census
online. The shift to digital, along with a potential question
about U.S. citizenship, language barriers, underfunding and
other issues, are combining to potentially make the official
head U.S. count inaccurate and incomplete, according to the
National Latino Commission on Census 2020.
“The census is at the greatest risk than it has ever been in our
lifetime,” said Arturo Vargas,
executive director of the National Association of Latino
Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, which has
formed the National Latino Commission on Census 2020.
The commission released a report last month that was, in part,
based on hearings held in five U.S. cities, including
Columbus, Ohio, on the impact of
the president's immigration and other policies on the census.
Dozens of public officials, community organizers and others--
many familiar with hard-to-count communities in their areas--
provided input. The report, according to NBC News,
delivers a dire prediction on next year’s census and slams the
The commission found that the addition of a citizenship question
is the largest concern of Latino constituent groups. The U.S.
Supreme Court could deliver a ruling later this month on the
Trump administration’s plan to ask people whether they are U.S.
citizens, although the timing is not certain. The fear is that
asking the citizenship question would discourage responses from
Latinos and undocumented immigrants—something the Census
Bureau’s own research also shows.
The ongoing digital divide is another top concern in the
commission’s report. Lack of access to the Internet among
Latinos, combined with language barriers, pose a real threat to
a census undercount. Many believe the online census
questionnaire is driven more by cost savings than its potential
effectiveness. 80 percent of U.S. households will be asked to
fill out the census questionnaire online.
A Pew Research Center study shows that 72 percent of white
adults in the U.S. used broadband at home in 2018, compared with
57 percent of Black-Americans and just 47 percent of Latinos.
Ohio has a huge stake in an accurate federal head count of
Buckeye state residents. The state lost two Congressional seats
due to declining population following the 2010 Census and is at
risk of losing at least one more Congressional representative
and its share of more than $675 billion in annual federal tax
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur is extremely worried about how well those households will be
counted across her northern Ohio district, especially with the
“I’m concerned that, in the neighborhood I live in and thousands of
neighborhoods across northern Ohio, there are people who do not
use apps. They don’t feel comfortable with the internet,” said
Rep. Kaptur (D-Toledo to Cleveland) during a recent press
conference about the census.
While alleging the 2010 head count missed millions of minorities,
the fear is even greater that the emphasis on a digital response
will mean an even worse outcome due to understaffing. The Census
Bureau is already recruiting for census enumerators in metro
areas. Getting the most accurate possible count will require
people who know their communities and are linguistically and
culturally fluent, as well as persistent and trustworthy.
According to a study published last year by
Cleveland State University’s Center for Population Dynamics,
Ohio lost about 183,000 native-born residents over the past six
years. But over that same period, Ohio welcomed nearly 113,000
immigrants who helped stabilize the state’s population. But
getting them all properly counted is another matter entirely.
The Toledo Community Foundation is encouraging nonprofit
groups and donors to figure out ways to reach vulnerable
populations next year. But no specifics or incentives were
“This is especially important since the 2020 census will be
markedly different than in years past,” said Anneliese
Grytafey of the Toledo Community Foundation. “The
heavy reliance by the federal government on an online process in
2020 means that we’re at greater risk than ever for an
incomplete count, something our community absolutely cannot
The Urban Institute is predicting a serious undercount of
minorities and children under age five. In particular, the
group’s research predicts a Latino undercount in Ohio alone of
9,700 (2%) to 17,000 (3.6%).