Elías Gutiérrez, the editor and founder of the Latino Press newspaper in Detroit, spoke to us about the lack of participation of this community in the 2020 census, and about the initiative they plan to implement to solve this problem.
Only 47.6 percent of Detroit’s population has responded to or completed the 2020 census, which is very serious as the rest of Michigan has had a 68% response rate. According to Elías, there are several reasons why residents, including Latinos, are not committed to the census process.
He highlights that many Latinos are afraid of federal agencies, and therefore, to disclose information that could compromise them, even when it has made public that this information is private and that it will not be shared with other government agencies, other than for census purposes. On the other hand, many people do not know how to fill out census forms, either physical or online.
“Families here in Southwest Detroit are terrified of the feds. Although there are people I know who are American citizens, they are worried because they’re related or live with undocumented migrants and feel that talking about their situation can affect those family or friends who do not have their immigration status in order,” says Elías.
To solve and increase the Latino community’s participation in the census, Latino Press will launch a campaign and will visit supermarkets and other focal sites, where they have detected people visit periodically, to help them fill out the census form online, right there on site.
“From July 11 onwards, we will be touring on a bus so that people can approach us, and we can immediately fill out the form online for them, including their basic information such as name or address. We are moving this campaign forward to help this area, which is quite stagnant in the census response,” he says.
The initiative was also born after seeing that all the resources that were implemented so far, such as television advertising, road billboards, and promotional material sponsored by the government and social entities, have not been useful and have failed to target the desired audience. Therefore he hopes that with this one-month campaign, they will get more than a 50% response rate.
Elías suggests to the community to “please have a little clarity that what we are doing is for the future of our children and their children, who are going to be here in the next ten years and whom will be able to receive a better education and access to resources for the elderly and minors. So put your hand on your heart and do an act of courage in this historical moment that we are facing”.