NM politicians urge residents to complete census

By:  Anthony Jackson

There are just under three weeks left until the deadline for the 2020 census and at a cumulative response rate of 81.5%, according to data from the Census Bureau, New Mexico is progressing toward its goal of a full count.

Still, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and members of the state’s congressional delegation – Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, Reps. Ben Ray Luján, Deb Haaland and Xochitl Torres-Small – are urging New Mexicans who have not yet filled out their census to do so as soon as possible.

“Anyone can go to my2020Census.gov or call 800-932-8282 by Sept. 30 to respond,” Haaland said during a virtual news conference Thursday. “I filled out my census already, it only took about 10 minutes.”

The governor and members of the delegation are also calling on the Census Bureau to change direction for its operations in New Mexico.

“And that should start with extending the deadline back to the end of October so that our communities have the time to get this right,” Heinrich said.

On Aug. 3, the Census Bureau announced it would be ending self-response options and field operations such as door-knocking in communities with low participation rates a month early.

“Until you have 100%, which is a pretty high bar, we should be pushing every day, diligently, to improve our response rate and recognize what’s at stake if we don’t,” Lujan Grisham said.

Each year, over $3,000 is allocated to states per person counted. A 15% undercount could cost New Mexico $9.3 billion toward improving schools and rebuilding infrastructure, according to data from the University of New Mexico’s Geospatial and Population Studies in partnership with NM Counts 2020.

The Governor’s Office estimates that at least 43% of residents live in “hard-to-count” areas. Indigenous communities, rural residents and communities of color have been historically undercounted during the Census.

As of Sept. 8, Catron County, with a population of over 3,500, reported an overall response rate of 19%, the lowest participation in the state. If participation doesn’t improve the county will miss out on an estimated $85 million over a decade.