By Joyeuse Muhorakeye
10th grade, Aiken H.S.
Have you ever thought about how the government knows how many people are in the country? Well, every decade (that’s 10 years), the U.S. Census Bureau counts everyone living here. It’s a huge effort, required by law, and it shows how an individual’s choice can have a big impact on the rest of the community.
This year’s census has been… kind of a mess. Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic made it a lot harder to count people; but politics are causing even more chaos. At Aiken High School, where many of us came to the U.S. from other countries, we wanted to help to clear things up.
Why It Counts
The census is what helps the government understand the country’s changing needs so that it can serve us better. Most families participate in the census by completing a form online or by mail; others are counted in person, by thousands and thousands of census workers. And they’re running out of time—the Trump Administration wants to stop the count early, but an ongoing battle in the courts and in Congress might extend that deadline at least through October. While some states are almost done, officials in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana estimate that at least 30 percent of the people living here still haven’t been counted.
That’s a problem, because without accurate population numbers, we as a community, state and nation won’t have the services we need for a good economy, health, education, housing, and more. If certain communities are under-counted, things can get a lot harder for us.
The 2020 Census will inform hundreds of billions of dollars in federal funding every year, and provide data that will impact communities for the next decade and beyond. The count is also used to draw congressional and state legislative districts, which has a big impact on who wins elections, who gets represented, and whose interests are protected.
Many immigrants to the United States feel unsafe participating in the census. They don’tknow whether they can trust our government with their information. The Trump Administration has been working all along to try to exclude certain people from the census–especially those who are undocumented. A question like, “Are you a citizen?” can frighten people. They might think they will be arrested or face more consequences. But the Supreme Court struck down that question. The law also keeps your census information private.
As long as you’re a human living in the U.S.A., you count! And your age doesn’t matter, either. Our Aiken students made a series of videos in different languages to help spread the word to those who don’t speak or understand English. Here’s how our teacher Aaron Parker explains the project.
In conclusion: the census is important. We should all unite together and encourage everyone to stand up and be counted, because it’s for our good and the country’s benefit. If we don’t do it, then it’s our loss.