Photo Courtesy of the Borough President’s Office
Borough President Melinda Katz
By Michael V. Cusenza
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz on Monday announced that she will host a borough-wide Town Hall this Tuesday, Nov. 13, to begin discussing the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census.
The decennial survey “will pose new challenges and raise important questions,” Katz said, including:
• For the first time ever, 80 percent of respondents will be asked to complete the Census form online, presenting uncertainty over the impact of the digital divide, including how seniors or others who either lack internet access or are limited in their internet proficiency can ensure they are not overlooked, Katz said.
• The potential inclusion of a controversial citizenship question in the 2020 Census “is a deep cause for concern,” according to the borough president. City pols have been blasting U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and President Donald Trump all year for their decision to add a question to the survey that would ask respondents if they are U.S. citizens.
“Adding a question that asks respondents if they are citizens is a horrible and reckless decision that will likely decrease response rates, resulting in an inaccurate and incomplete count that will have a decade’s worth of consequences on Queens and communities throughout New York and the nation,” U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) said in May. “It will have a devastating impact on the billions of dollars in federal aid that is distributed for schools, infrastructure, social services and other critical resources.”
In April, then-State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman—leading a coalition of 18 attorneys general, six cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors—filed a lawsuit to prevent the Trump administration from adding the question. That case is now at trial in federal court in Manhattan.
On Monday, BP Katz noted that the 2010 Census saw dramatic undercounts in Queens neighborhoods, particularly areas with high immigrant populations such as East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, where tens of thousands of people were overlooked. As a whole, the 2010 Census reported the population of Queens rose by only 1,300 people over the prior decade, “a dubious number that is likely wildly inaccurate,” Katz said.
“The Census impacts everything we do here in Queens, and we have so much at stake,” the borough president added. “It determines how much representation we will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, how much funding we will receive for infrastructure and health services and for our schools over the next decade, and much more. In our ever-growing city and boroughs, it is imperative that we be counted fully. An undercount means underfunding and underrepresentation, with real damages and real costs that will hurt communities across America and certainly here in Queens. Everyone is urged to join the discussions to learn about the proposed changes and how you can help ensure your neighborhood is accurately counted.”
The Nov. 13 Town Hall will take place from 6 – 8 p.m. at the Helen Marshall Cultural Center in Borough Hall at 120-55 Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens. Anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP in advance at queensbp.org/rsvp or by calling (718) 286-2661.