As the 2020 census approaches, the question of citizenship draws concern, criticism

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It happens every 10 years and we’re just one year away from it, it’s the United States Census.

Tuesday, local leaders spoke at a Census 2020 Regional kick-off event, emphasizing the importance of census participation.

The Fresno County Complete Count Committee (Fresno CCC) says every person counts and they want to see to it that they are.

But the big debate continues over whether or not the citizenship question should be on the 2020 Census.

“The Census is going to be really important for our families, I know particularly a lot of our immigrant communities live in the shadows,” says a community leader speaking at the event.

Many community based organizations and City leaders gathered to talk about the importance of reaching out to people in Fresno County for the 2020 Census.

Particularly, the immigrant population.

“There is a fear that has been instilled in many folks that if they sign on and give their information that the government will come and look for them and so we want to send a strong message that they should not fear,” says Esmeralda Soria, councilmember with the City of Fresno. 

Soria says two courts have already ruled that the citizenship question should not be on the Census, but she says the Trump administration appealed it.

“There are community organizations that have signed onto Amicus Brief opposing this and reiterating what the lower courts have said, this will only hinder our ability to get an accurate count,” she says.

The question has never been asked in the past. So, community leaders say why start now. 

“I don’t feel it’s needed at all if we’re trying to count each person, we don’t need to know what their immigration status is,” says Kamaljit Kaur, with the Fresno County Complete Count Committee.

If the citizenship question is asked, community leaders say people might decline to fill out the Census.

They say if that happens it could cost the Central Valley to lose up to $2 Billion in Federal and State funding, that pay for things like roads, education and social services.

City leaders say for the first time ever the Census will be online. If you want it in the mail, they say you will have to request it.

They say for the next 12 months, they will go door to door, especially in the rural communities and for those who do not have access to the internet.

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