HITN hosted its first Census Town Hall on Thursday, November 13, 2019 in the 3rd largest city of our nation, Chicago, Illinois. This educational initiative kicked off HITN’s Census national campaign, ¡Tu Cuentas! and is designed to promote participation by Hispanics as well as hard-to-count (HTC) populations in the 2020 Census. The Town Hall was held at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) and streamed LIVE nationwide. This event brought important community leaders, educators, students and local elected officials together in an open and frank discussion of the critical issues surrounding the upcoming 2020 census.
Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia stressed the need for organization within Latino communities to join forces and assure everyone is counted. According to the Congressman, “What’s at stake here is the well-being and prosperity of our community” and “The Census is important to the future of our democracy given we are now the largest minority group in the United States.”
It was clear that the importance of an accurate count representing the Latino population was a key topic of concern, as Oswaldo Alvárez, co-director of the Illinois Census office opened by stating “most of the growth of the state of Illinois is in the Latino community” and “if we (The Federal Government) don’t count correctly, resources will not reach these communities”, thereby confirming that the 2010 Census undercounted almost 1 million young children ages 0-5.
Pastor Emma Lozano of Iglesia Metodista Lincoln brought yet another important point to the discussion by mentioning the ‘fear factor’ involving undocumented immigrants. They feel that if they are counted, it could lead to deportation. She insisted that the community must help them understand the 20202 Census, so it will work in their favor instead of against them.
Other participating entities included high school students from Roberto Clemente Community Academy and NEIU students from various classes, who, posed several questions of the panelists and in doing so, said ¡PRESENTE! as the younger generation.