March 31, 2022

Cortez Masto Calls on Administration to Address Census Undercount of Communities of Color

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and 17 other Senate colleagues in urging the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Census Bureau to provide answers on what the Bureau is doing to address the decades-long problem of undercounting minority communities across the country – a problem the previous administration intentionally made worse while the 2020 Census was being conducted.

“We write to you with serious concerns about the 2020 Census and its undercounting of Hispanic or Latino, Black, and Native American individuals,” wrote the Senators. “Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau released its National Census Coverage Estimates for People in the United States by Demographic Characteristics, which is a 2020 Post-Enumeration Survey Estimation Report. This report revealed an undercount of Hispanic or Latino, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Some Other Race populations.”

According to the Census’ post-enumeration report, the 2020 Census undercounted the Hispanic or Latino population by nearly 5%, up from 1.54% in 2010. Black or African American individuals were uncounted by 3.3%, and American Indian or Alaska Natives in reservations were undercounted by 5.64% – the most significant undercount margin of all demographic groups.

The Senators acknowledged the pandemic affected the Bureau’s outreach, data collection process, and other aspects of the census operation. However, they highlighted that before the COVID-19 pandemic the previous administration made significant efforts to depress participation in the 2020 Census, particularly in immigrant and Latino communities.

“The prior Administration insisted on numerous occasions the inclusion of a citizenship question in the non-partisan 2020 Census. It went so far as to ask the Supreme Court to review a case and decide whether a citizenship question could be included in the 2020 Census,” added the Senators. “Although this question was ultimately not included in the 2020 Census, and despite numerous outreach efforts, these actions, and the public coverage thereof, undoubtedly influenced minority communities’ participation in the latest Census, particularly in the Hispanic and Latino populations.”

Full text of the letter is available here.

Senator Cortez Masto worked to prevent the 2020 Census from undercounting Nevadans and depriving American communities of funding and representation. She pushed back against Trump Administration efforts to include to add a political question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. In response to delays associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, she called for an extension of the 2020 Census deadline. She also cosponsored the Fair and Accurate Census Act, legislation to address the significant challenges facing the Census Bureau as a result of the pandemic.