Local bar associations join in the call to fill out census

Census deadline is Sept. 30

September 4, 2020 Rob Abruzzese

The U.S. Census is a Constitutionally mandated count of every person in the country, but this year it is getting extra attention because of the uncertainty surrounding it due to COVID-19. First, the deadline to fill out a census form was July 31, but that was extended to Oct. 31 only to have it moved again to Sept. 30.

A group of 24 local bar associations, including the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association, recently wrote a letter that they will have published in select local newspapers imploring people to make sure that they fill out the census form this year so that New York is properly represented in federal government programs.

“The Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association joins with other bar leaders in the mission to inform the public of the importance of being counted in the 2020 census,” said BWBA President Natoya McGhie. “Low income and marginalized communities in New York City have been historically uncounted. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we spread the word and encourage census participation.”

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The census impacts the number of U.S. Representatives each state gets, and it also helps the federal government allocate money for hospitals, healthcare, schools and housing.

“Brooklyn is the hardest county to count and has the lowest response rate of all the boroughs,” McGhie said. “By raising awareness about the census, we can help to ensure that our communities get the representation, funding and support they deserve.”

Other bar associations to sign on include the Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, the Staten Island Women’s Bar Association, the Asian American Bar Association of New York, the Bronx Women’s Bar Association, the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College, the Dominican Bar Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association Region II, New York, the Jewish Lawyers Guild, the Latino Lawyers Association of Queens County, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association and the Network of Bar Leaders, among other groups.

“In just a few minutes, you can fill out the census at www.my2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020,” said the letter written by the bar associations. “It is ok if you do not have your 12-digit code, simply indicate where it reads ‘if you do not have a census ID click here.’ It takes less than ten minutes to answer the ten questions the census asks, yet it affects the next ten years of our city’s future and will impact how our city will rebound from this crisis.”

There has been extra concern over the census in New York City overall as well, since so many people have at least temporarily left the state, the New York Times reported. Many apartment buildings have also not allowed census workers inside due to coronavirus concerns, NBC reported.

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Earlier this week, Attorney General Letitia James held a press conference with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, in which they warned that New Yorkers are being “severely undercounted” and said that in some parts of New York City only 35 percent of the neighborhood has filled it out.

“Our democracy depends on the census — from allocating federal resources to determining congressional districts — which is why it is so critically important to ensure the most accurate count of the population,” said Attorney General James. “We are falling behind in responding to the census as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors. Everyone counts; therefore, everyone must be counted, and we must do everything we can to ensure high levels of participation.”


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