Top Democrat urges foreigners 'visiting' U.S. to respond to 2020 Census as NYC faces undercount

House Oversight Chairwoman Maloney identified COVID-19 and police brutality as reasons for NYC's low Census response rate

Updated: June 23, 2020 - 11:42am

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With Census form responses from New York City households below the national average, House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney on Monday urged foreigners "visiting" the U.S. to respond to the 2020 Census as soon as possible.

The New York congresswoman said the previously proposed U.S. citizenship question should not be a "deterrent" to anyone since is not included on the Census form.

"Everyone should be counted. Even if you're visiting our country from a foreign country then you should be counted as who is in the country when we do this count so it's very, very important," Maloney said on a conference call with reporters. "We also have to get the message out that the Census is completely and totally confidential so that no one's information will be allowed for any other purpose but a number that shows the research we need for different age groups, different health issues and everything else."

According to the official 2020 Census website, "citizens of foreign countries who are living in the United States, including members of the diplomatic community, should be counted at the U.S. residence where they live and sleep most of time. Citizens of foreign countries who are temporarily visiting the United States on vacation or business on April 1, 2020, should not be counted."

Following the conference call, a senior Democratic aide said Maloney was referring to foreign citizens residing in the country and not foreigners on vacations or business trips. 

Maloney identified COVID-19, "systemic racism and police brutality" as reasons for NYC's low Census response rate.

"People have been afraid for their lives," she said on the conference call. 

Census Day was officially April 1, and households are being encouraged to complete the form by phone, mail or electronically through the end of October, according to the Census Bureau operational deadlines.

"It is crucial for our communities here and New York to be fully counted to secure the funding we are entitled to for critical services like education, medical care and job programs," Maloney said. "As of today, about 61 percent of households across the nation have completed their census forms either online, over the phone or by mail. Unfortunately, New York City is below the national average with just over 52 percent of households responding."

Census workers will visit the homes that have not returned the form to conduct interviews through October 31.