clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

State’s top lawmakers remind residents of census deadline in two weeks

Pritzker, Lightfoot and Preckwinkle join a rally in Little Village to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month to urge Latinos to be counted in the census. In some Latino-majority neighborhoods, the response rate hovers at just 40%.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks about the importance of the census at an event attended by state and community leaders to celebrate the start of Hispanic Heritage Month in Little Village by discussing the importance of the 2020 census at the corner of W 26th St and S Albany Ave In Little Village, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. | Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times
Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks Wednesday about the importance of the 2020 census at an event in Little Village attended by state and community leaders to celebrate the start of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The governor and mayor joined community organizers Wednesday in Little Village as Hispanic Heritage Month gets underway to encourage all Latinos to fill out the 2020 census before the deadline at the end of the month.

“We have just two more weeks to get the best count that we can,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “Just a 1% undercount could result in the state losing $195 million a year at a time when frankly we need the most funding that we can get.”

At the event hosted by Rincon Family Services and state Rep. Edgar Gonzalez, D-Chicago, whose district covers Little Village, a booth was set up where residents could fill out the census on the spot. Also, complimentary masks, T-shirts and hand sanitizers were given out.

Pritzker and nearly a dozen other elected officials — including Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Mayor Lori Lightfoot — urged the Latino community to finish the census before Sept. 30, the last day to be counted.

Hispanic Heritage Month, according to census.gov, runs from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15 and “recognizes and celebrates the contributions Americans tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South American and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean have made to American society and culture.”

Pritzker, like others, criticized President Donald Trump’s handling of the census and reassured people that information provided on the form won’t be shared with other federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We are making it clear that the information is important for our schools, and our roads, and our health care, and that the information you share will not be used in any kind of ICE enforcement actions or other threats, no matter what this president says,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker said Illinois’ investment into making sure people are counted is paying off. As of Wednesday, the state’s 70.4% response rate is the seventh best in the country and is nearly better than 2010’s 70.5%.

However, Chicago’s response rate raises concerns.

The city’s 59.3% response rate is less than 2010’s 62.4% and a long way from Lightfoot’s ambitious goal of 75%. In some Latino-majority neighborhoods, the response rate hovers at about 40%.

“Right here in Little Village, the self-response rate is just 41%,” Stratton said. “How we respond to the census will impact us for generations to come because it is directly tied to millions of dollars of federal funds. That’s money that Little Village can’t afford to lose.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other lawmakers in Little Village on Wednesday urging Latino residents to fill out the 2020 census.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot joined Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other lawmakers in Little Village on Wednesday urging Latino residents to fill out the 2020 census.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Lightfoot said the year’s adversities, including civil unrest, an economic downturn and a global coronavirus pandemic, shouldn’t stop people from participating in the census. She stressed that funding for roads, schools and parks over the next 10 years is dependent on this year’s count.

“We need our fair share, and the only way we get there is by making sure that everyone is counted,” Lightfoot said. “The babies. The grandmas. Everybody in between, no matter your citizenship status, we must be counted.”

Census takers have already started knocking on the doors of those who have not completed their census. Residents cans still self-respond at my2020census.gov, call 844-330-2020 or by mail.

Manny Ramos is a corps member in Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster Sun-Times coverage of issues affecting Chicago’s South and West sides.