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Guest opinion

Villegas: Accurate Census count matters to all of Pima County

Door-knocking efforts for the 2020 Census are underway to attain an accurate count in Pima County, and it will take all of us to make it as complete as possible. A full and precise count will affect the amount of federal funding we receive for 10 years, determine our number of congressional seats, and redraw the lines that define our local political boundaries.

The consequences of an inaccurate count hurt everyone. For each person not completing the Census, we lose federal funding for the next 10 years on critical items such as our transit systems, parks, education, community centers, housing, public health, daycare, support for our foster system, mental health system, natural disasters, and so much more.

As of August 26, Pima County has counted 64.19 percent of the population, which means we must continue working to bring it higher. Historically, across the nation, our hard-to-count, underserved, and vulnerable people have been undercounted.

Adding to this difficulty is the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit these same hard-to-count areas significantly, as well as the threatening scare tactics of the Trump administration.

To ensure everyone is included, Census workers are knocking on doors and calling people who have not responded. The workers also must reassure people who may not trust the process while taking safety precautions to ensure they are not adding to community virus transmission.

In April, the Census Bureau realized the pandemic would create a delay, and the director requested a four-month extension from Congress to deliver its final count data in April 2021 instead of the original deadline of December 2020. He had also extended the Census count to October 31 to give needed time for a more accurate count.

Then, with no explanation, in early August, the same director received direction from the Trump administration and announced he would end the count on September 30, a month earlier than previously planned.

We must not let these tactics by the Trump administration keep us from a full and accurate count. Prior Census counts show many persons missing from the tallies are children under five years old, so please don't forget that everyone counts regardless of age, race, and status.

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It's up to each one of us to ask our family, neighbors, friends, coworkers, to complete the Census. We cannot afford to miss out on our fair share of funding.

Can we rely on you to help us count everyone in our county? Time is of the essence, and you can still self-respond online, by phone or by mail. Visit my2020Census.gov or answer your door to a Census worker who will safely record your data.

Betty Villegas is the Pima County supervisor representing District 5, and chair of the Census 2020 Complete Count Committee for Pima County.

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