The 2020 census in the United States has as many doubts as questions

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The controversy that has surrounded the census that has been proposed for 2020 has divided from the Supreme Court to the US industrial sector

The 2020 census in the United States has as many doubts as questions

The doubt that has sounded strong for quite some time, even since 2018, is the possibility of including a question about the citizenship of the respondents. A question that, at first, may seem harmless and even totally consistent with the framework of a census within an established country. However, in the context of the United States, its development of immigration throughout the twentieth century and the controversial policies of the Trump administration in this regard, make this question a trigger of problems, fears, and insecurities for an entire country.

Leer en español: El censo 2020 en Estados Unidos tiene tantas dudas como preguntas

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has defended in front of the Supreme Court the legal need (and possibility) to ask this question, which has not been carried out since the 50's. According to Ross, and a good amount of political figures in favor of anti-immigration policies such as Steve Bannon, head of strategy at the White House or Kris Kobach, secretary of the state of Kansas, the question about citizenship seeks to know the reality about the legal status of people living in the United States today and, at the same time, revise the voting right law of 1965.

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Those who are against argue that this is a measure of repression against immigrants and that the only thing that will be achieved is to create more fear and low participation of these people in the census. The Supreme Court, for its part, is divided between those who consider that there is no support for this question, of a more liberal nature and those that give it the benefit of the doubt, of a more conservative nature.

Its impact on the economy

The great sacrifice within the 2020 census and its controversy about the question of the citizenship of the respondents is the American economy. According to Reuters, companies such as clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss & Co, Uber or Univision have spoken out publicly to reconsider this policy and, in general, the consequences of a census in the economic life of a country like the United States.

The fact of collecting data about the people who inhabit a place, their habits, their purchasing power, their marital status, among others, turns out to be essential information so that companies can design their sales strategies and, even more, project towards the future. If the 2020 census results in inaccurate information, altered, or with a representation much lower than the real due to the fear of immigrants to answer, the economic conglomerates will be affected and, ultimately, all the inhabitants of the region, because access to goods and services will not correspond to reality.

Its enormous cost

The future and the consequences of the census are just one of the face of the coin because the other big question of this census is its cost. According to Reuters, the budget of the census as such is in 500 million dollars, while Science Magazine reports an increase of 2 billion dollars to the general budget of the nation for 2020 where the census is included, so, although it does not manage exactly accurate figures, there is a generalized climate of alarm for the excessive expense of the implementation of this census.

With respect to the previous census, there is an increase of more than 100 million, with the 2010 budget of 376 million dollars. From a continental perspective, some of the last Latin American censuses did not even reach the figure of the 2010 American census: Mexico in 2010 spent 6,000 million pesos (around 315 million dollars); Peru in 2017 spent 173.8 million soles (a little more than 50 million dollars); and Colombia in 2018 spent 350,000 million pesos (a little more than 10 million dollars). With this comparison, it is possible to understand the magnitude of the proposed census for 2020 and the consequences that outdated participation of the events that it claims to represent could bring.


LatinAmerican Post | Jorge Ovalle

Translated from "El censo 2020 en Estados Unidos tiene tantas dudas como preguntas"

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