Cook County will resist Trump’s shameful attack on the Census

A full, accurate count of every person in the United States was deemed so essential by our nation’s founding fathers that it was enshrined in our Constitution.

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Demonstrators gather at the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices finish the term with key decisions on gerrymandering and a Census case involving an attempt by the Trump administration to ask everyone about their citizenship status in the 2020 census, on Ca

Demonstrators gather on Thursday at the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices finish the term with key decisions on gerrymandering and a census case involving an attempt by the Trump administration to ask everyone about their citizenship status in the 2020 census.

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

President Donald Trump’s attempt to weaponize the Census by including a citizenship question has been thwarted — for now — by the U.S. Supreme Court, but let’s be clear — the citizenship question is a despicable ploy meant to have a chilling effect on participation and incite fear in immigrant and black and brown communities.

Incredibly, the president of the United States has now threatened to delay the Census. President Trump’s politicization of the Census in any manner is a tactic to marginalize entire communities while jeopardizing many millions of dollars in projects and programs for Cook County and its residents.

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Opinion

Let me be clear — Cook County will resist his shameful efforts.

Recently, the Cook County Board of Commissioners took an important step to ensure an accurate and representative Census count in 2020 by approving the Complete Count Census Commission. This accomplished and diverse group will encourage participation, increase awareness and work towards a complete count in Cook County.

A full, accurate count of every person in the United States was deemed so essential by our nation’s founding fathers that it was enshrined in our Constitution. Almost 230 years later, its importance has never been more crucial.

The 2020 Census will determine congressional apportionment and the allocation of billions of dollars in federal funding for schools, roads and bridges, health care and countless other programs on which our residents depend.

A recent George Washington Institute of Public Policy report cited more than $34 billion tied to Census figures are distributed to Illinois through federal programs. For every 1% of all Illinois residents not counted, the state would potentially stand to lose $122 million per year, according to the report. With nearly 40 percent of the state’s population residing in Cook County, the financial impact could be devastating to the entire state if our residents are not counted accurately.

Congressional districts and the boundaries of Cook County commissioner districts as well as city wards are determined by Census figures. An accurate Census helps ensure fair representation at all levels of government. If Illinois does not have an accurate count, the state could lose at least one congressional seat following the 2020 Census. This loss of representation in Washington would further isolate communities that already struggle with disinvestment. We need to ensure that the diverse voices of Cook County are counted and represented in Congress and we can accomplish that with Census outreach and awareness.

To facilitate participation and raise awareness, Cook County has set aside $2 million in the 2019 county budget to help fund outreach efforts. A major focus of the county’swork will involve determining the best ways to count underserved parts of the county and by reaching out to local community organizations and elected officials.

There is more at stake than ever before as we prepare for the 2020 Census.

Let’s work together and be counted.

Toni Preckwinkle is president of the Cook County Board.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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