Census question on citizenship could cost New Mexico hundreds of millions | KOB 4

Census question on citizenship could cost New Mexico hundreds of millions

Patrick Hayes
March 07, 2019 07:11 AM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Some fear a proposed citizenship question could force the state to lose hundreds of millions of dollars, according to an official with the University of New Mexico.

"So there's about $800 billion in annual federal funds that are distributed to states, local communities and individuals based on demographic data that's obtained in the decennial census,” said Robert Rhatigan, a senior research scientist at UNM.

Rhatigan is also the state’s liaison with the U.S. Census Bureau and is teaming up with groups that advocate for minorities and immigrants to make sure people know their information will be protected.

As KOB previously reported, the Trump administration wants to bring back a citizenship question during the upcoming census. However, Rhatigan and some groups think that may lead to an undercount and cost the state a lot of money for things like education, Medicaid and transportation.

Rhatigan told KOB there are several reasons someone might not wanted to be counted.

"One is a general distrust of the federal government,” he said. “Particularly the citizenship question that has been proposed is going to drive down participation among certain historically hard to count communities – particularly the Latino community and immigrant community."

New Mexico receives over $6 billion each year through federal programs that allocate funds on per capita basis, according to UNM’s Geospatial Population Studies Dept.

Additionally, a one percent undercount of New Mexicans in 2020 could result in a $600,000,000 loss of funds over a ten-year period.

A spokesperson with the Center for Civic Policy told KOB, they want a state-funded outreach plan to address concerns.

Isaac De Luna Navarro, the center’s director of communication said, “(That group) will ensure that trusted voices in the community are the ones that are doing some of the outreach with many of the vulnerable communities that live in New Mexico including Latinos, Hispanics and Native Americans who know that a trusted voice will most likely result in a good count for New Mexico."

Whether or not the citizenship question gets added will be up to the Supreme Court which is scheduled to rule later this year.


Patrick Hayes

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