Editor’s Column: The Census Is America’s Family Photo, So Get in

Isabella Chan, Editor-In-Chief

I never understood the purpose behind a Christmas card. Whenever we received one in the mail, my family would question why we received them. Was this someone’s not-so-subtle way of showing off their family trip to Cape Cod, or did they actually think of us around the holidays?

I honestly couldn’t tell you, but what I do know is that the seasonal card provided a brief snapshot into this person’s family. There was a chance to see who was married, or away at college? Maybe I’d see their new baby or notice the grandparents move in with them.

It was almost like the Christmas card was showing what a yearly census report of this family would be like — and it probably took more work putting together that photo shoot than actually participating in the United States census.

The decennial census is frankly quite easy and offers Americans the chance to see what a Christmas card that features the entire country would look like. A census Christmas card would display the various ages, races and sexes of people currently living in the nation. Along with that, it allows the government to receive a better idea of how populated each state is in order to properly distribute funding, reapportion seats in the House of Representatives and other important tasks.

“Federal funds, grants and support to states, counties and communities are based on population totals and breakdowns by sex, age, race and other factors. Your community benefits the most when the census counts everyone,” according to the United States Census Bureau. “The census asks questions of people in homes and group living situations, including how many people live or stay in each home, and the sex, age and race of each person.”

Our 2020 census report is not something for U.S. residents, legal or illegal, to ignore. These numbers influence a large number of economic, political and social decisions that are made in the present and in the future. Yet, it is still debated as to whether or not the survey should be altered to make it easier for all to participate.

In the past year, it has come into question how many people will actually participate in the 2020 census, as many argue if a citizenship question should remain in the survey.

If the question is incorporated, the scale in the House of Representatives will be heavily tipped towards the Republicans, as many undocumented immigrants — whom mostly reside in democratic districts — will deter away from willingly taking part in the survey. Therefore, the population in these areas will be reduced and without an accurate demographic of these districts, it would be impossible for the government to create a fair, political representation of the nation.

I may seem dramatic, but if this standoff goes in favor of keeping the citizenship question then, more-or-less, the number of immigrants that will likely refrain from participating in the census will increase. Consequently, this will go against what the census was made to do: help better the country.

So no matter how awkward it will be, people residing in the U.S. will have to suck it up and squeeze together (metaphorically speaking obviously) to show off how much “our family ” has changed in the last decade.