By Jesus Hernandez, age 11

Every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau counts every person living in the United States, and it’s happening in 2020. 

The census impacts how the government distributes more than $675 billion in federal funds to communities for services like schools, roads and hospitals. The census also determines political representation, like how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives. 

Many communities, such as Native Americans, have been historically undercounted. Tribal leaders are worried because the 2020 census will be conducted mostly online. The Guardian reported that a third of Native Americans living on tribal land do not have internet access.

In 2010, many undocumented people did not complete the census because they were afraid of being deported. In 2019, the Trump administration proposed that a question be added to the 2020 census about citizenship, which increased fear in immigrant communities. However, the Supreme Court blocked the effort.

Census responses are confidential, and you cannot be deported for completing it. Labor leader Dolores Huerta and other activists are visiting immigrant communities to debunk these myths and emphasize the importance of being counted. U.S. News reported that for every person who goes uncounted, the state loses around $2,000 per year in public funding.

For the 2020 census, language guides are available in 60 languages to maximize the number of people who can answer the questionnaire. Melva Miller, who is leading the Census 2020 initiative of the Association for a Better New York, told City Limits that children in immigrant families often assist non-English-speaking parents in filling out government forms. Funding within school programs is also affected by the census, making children a fundamental part of the count.