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Counting on us

New York Teacher

New York State is in danger of losing two of its 27 Congressional seats and billions of dollars of federal government aid if next year’s U.S. census shows a decline in the state’s population. That’s why it’s crucial that all New Yorkers, regardless of immigrant status, participate in the census count.

The population statistics collected in the census determine how much money our city and state receive for vital public services. New York State receives $53 billion each year for federally funded programs that support public schools, public housing, senior centers, Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, emergency preparedness, and roads and bridges — and the lion’s share of that funding benefits New York City.

The population count in the census also determines how many seats New York State is allotted in the U.S. House of Representatives and affects the Electoral College as well.

If New Yorkers don’t participate in the census, our state’s population will be undercounted and we won’t receive our fair share of federal funding or have accurate federal representation.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration is trying to add a question about citizenship to the census that is clearly aimed at striking fear in immigrants who don’t want to disclose their documentation status to a federal agency. The U.S. Census Bureau is legally barred from sharing any information it collects about immigration status with law enforcement agencies, but the question would nonetheless make undocumented immigrants reluctant to be counted. The case is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Over the next year, the UFT will work to educate its members and their school communities about what is at stake in the federal census and will strongly encourage participation. Every New Yorker must be counted to ensure our state receives its fair share of funds and has a Congressional delegation that reflects the state’s actual population.