The Court is on the side of immigrants and the census count; now the power is in their hands

FELICIA J. PERSAUD | 9/24/2020, midnight
The official count of every living person in the United States that will determine the next ten years of our ...
Felicia Persaud

The official count of every living person in the United States that will determine the next ten years of our lives, ends on September 30. Sadly, with just days to go, there are still many immigrants who refuse to take the census––some out of fear, but others out of a lack of knowledge of the power they really hold in the piece of paper or digital form.

On September 18, I appeared on a panel discussion hosted on the Census by the International African Arts Festival and used the analogy of winning the lottery but not bothering to collect the winnings. That is exactly what immigrants are choosing to do when they ignore the Census.

I understand the fear as an immigrant, especially if you are undocumented in Trump’s America. And this is the reality many of our immigrant brothers and sisters live daily in New York City and across many major states and cities nationally.

But luckily for us immigrants, the courts are still on our side. On September 10, 2020, Donald Trump again lost after a federal court rejected his order to exclude undocumented immigrants from Census counts that will be used next year to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives. The court said Trump’s proposal exceeded his authority under federal laws governing the census and reapportionment. It is the second time this Census that Trump has lost.

He also lost when he moved to change Census forms to record citizenship status, lucky for us. It means that despite Trump’s bullying, the courts are standing up for immigrants and we need to take heart in that and use it to our advantage.

The obsession of Trump with the Census proves that he is not as dumb as we may think. He understands the importance of it––numbers equal money and Trump undoubtedly understands that game. But do we as immigrants?

Ignoring the census means leaving dollars on the table; not collecting your winnings and letting Donald Trump one up you. Are you willing to keep letting him take, take, take while you lose, lose, lose?

Are you willing to stay invisible and suffer in silence––with poor services, bad health care, terrible hospitals, overcrowded schools, crime infested neighborhoods; underfunded social services, no funding for your business; no day care for your children; no help for seniors and the poor? All while you pay taxes into a system but take back nothing out––simply because you did not answer present on a 10-minute count?

Are you willing in the era of Black Lives Matter to say it, but then not empower yourself by claiming dollars for you and your community for the next 10 years?

Since the first census was taken in 1790, the number of seats each state holds in the House of Representatives has been based on counts of everyone living in the United States, including slaves who were counted as two thirds of a person by their slave owners. We have come a long way since those dark days even as some try to turn back the hands of time in 2020.

Don’t be a fool or be frozen in fear. Stand up; speak up and be counted. Remember Joseph and Mary travelled hundreds of miles on a donkey to get counted in Bethlehem. You simply have to log on to my2020census.gov, fill out and send back the mailed form your receive, answer the door to an enumerator or call 844-330-2020.

Remember, power over your fear and Donald Trump is now in your hands. You alone hold your destiny in them.

The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.