Yesterday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced that the 2020 Census would include a new, untested, and unnecessary, citizenship question. This alarming decision is yet another attack on immigrants, as well as fair representation across the nation. Experts are predicting that the response rate to the Census could drop drastically, as people avoid it out of fear and panic. Having an accurate Census count is critical to every facet of our nation, from allocating resources at the local level, to Congressional representation at the national level, and this change will only make it less likely that we have accurate Census data. Despite the administration’s claims that the addition is necessary for protecting voting rights—not something this administration has shown any interest in up until this point—it’s clear that this is just a politically motivated attempt to harm communities. California has already sued the administration over this decision, calling it “an unconstitutional attempt to discourage an accurate census count,” and a range of groups have raised the alarm, including 161 mayors from both parties and 60 members of Congress.
This new move by Ross isn’t the only concern about the quickly-approaching 2020 Census. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has flagged the Census as one of its high-risk areas, due to underfunding, the introduction of new, untested innovations, field test cancellations, and a failure to adhere to best practices. In addition, the Census is urging people to answer the questionnaire online for the first time, which has led advocates to fear that traditionally undercounted populations—including people of color, immigrants, and low-income communities—will be even more drastically undercounted. In an obvious sign of the motivations, a previous top Census nominee who has now withdrawn authored a book entitled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”
Why is the Census so important? Census data are critical for policy decisions and fair representation for the American people– seats in the House of Representatives are divided between states based on their populations as determined by the census. Because it’s only conducted once every 10 years, an inaccurate count could have devastating implications for the following decade—something we can simply not risk.
ACTION OF THE DAY
Share Your Story. In this turbulent political climate, a lot of things are at stake. Whether it’s environmental policies that put your family’s health at risk or the #TaxScam that has left many middle-class Americans wondering where their benefits are, Trump’s policies are having an impact on families across the country. We want to hear your voice—share your story with us today!
Inequities in Recovery. A new investigative report by Politico has found that the Trump administration “responded far more aggressively to Texas than to Puerto Rico” in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Even though the damage in Puerto Rico was far worse and more widespread than in Texas, Trump provided nearly 23 times more money to Texas for individual assistance. And while 39 percent of Texas relief applications have been approved, only 28 percent of Puerto Rico’s relief applications have been approved. Six months after Maria, Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover, with 11 percent of its citizens without power. And it’s more than just the electrical concerns. Puerto Rico is facing a dearth of resources for longer term recovery efforts, including rebuilding its economy and protecting against significant health concerns.
LGBT Health Awareness Week. This week is LGBT Health Awareness Week, “a time to bring attention to the devastating cycle of discrimination and health disparities that affect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.” Under the Trump administration, the LGBTQ community has seen attacks on their health at every turn. For example, the Trump administration added a new office to the Department of Health and Human Services called the “Conscience and Religious Freedom Division”—an attempt to use religion to cover for discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. These policies and changes have serious implications. The Center for American Progress released data from a 2017 survey, showing the prevalence and impact of discriminatory medical practices on LGBTQ people. The data is especially shocking with regards to transgender people, as 29 percent reported that “a doctor or other health care provider refused to see them because of their actual or perceived gender identity.”
New Leader at the CDC. Speaking of LGBTQ health, Trump has named a second leader for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Robert Redfield. Under President Reagan, Redfield “helped design mandatory testing of all troops for HIV, without confidentiality, beginning in October 1985.” And, while working at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, he was “accused of manipulating data from the trial.” The bottom line: Redfield’s history is a cause for concern and we must closely monitor his actions to make sure the CDC’s director doesn’t ignore scientific facts.
UNDER THE RADAR
Toxic in Appalachia. Residents of a small town in West Virginia have found themselves stuck in a toxic nightmare. Minden, a former coal mining town, has become a “toxic wasteland where residents are afraid to drink the water and let their children play in their yards.” Minden’s residents are diagnosed with cancer at a rate at least four times higher than the national average. Designated as a Superfund, Minden needs resources from the EPA to help clean up efforts—or help its residents receive funding to relocate. But, under the direction of Scott Pruitt, the EPA is dragging its feet on any efforts to clean our country’s water and air.