SEATTLE — In an effort to ensure a fair and accurate census accounting, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the leadership of Seattle’s Census Task Force on Aug. 8.
Led by Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda and Refugee Women’s Alliance (ReWA) Executive Director Mahnaz Eshetu, the task force will be comprised of representatives from immigrant communities, organized labor, the education community, and other community organizations with members announced in the coming weeks.
Last month, a federal judge rejected the Trump Administration’s attempt to dismiss several elements of the multi-party lawsuit challenging the federal government’s intention to add a citizenship question to the U.S. 2020 Census.
“This administration continues with its unlawful attempts to push our immigrant and refugee communities further into the shadows and not be counted,” said Durkan. “Seattle was the fastest growing city over the past decade and an accurate Census count is the only way our city will receive much-needed resources.”
“The results of the 2020 Census will determine a myriad policy decisions, including funding for sufficient public health response and prevention programs, affordable housing funding, and economic development strategies,” said Mosqueda.
Eshetu said, “We have a growing number of refugees and immigrants in Seattle — it is certainly consequential to people’s voice that the Census represents a fair and accurate count of all populations that make up the fabric of our great city.”
The task force will meet bimonthly during the remainder of 2018 and throughout 2019, working in coordination with King County as they make sure all cities within the county are accurately counted.
In the lead up to the City’s Census preparation, City officials submitted public comment to the U.S. Department of Commerce, opposing the addition of a citizenship question on the 2020 census. In addition, the City of Seattle was part of a lawsuit brought by a coalition of more than 30 Attorneys General, counties, cities, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors to block the administration from demanding citizenship information on the survey form.
In 2010, 20 percent of Seattle residents did not fill out their Census form, triggering an in-person visit from Census Bureau staff. Including the citizenship question on the survey could result in this number skyrocketing, endangering the accuracy and function of the Census itself, and placing undue burdens on our immigrant residents or residents from our communities of color.
In Seattle, immigrants account for almost 17 percent of the population. 21 percent speaks a language other than English at home and 129 languages are spoken in Seattle public schools. Between 2000 and 2014, Seattle’s immigrant population grew 20 percent compared to 14 percent for the overall population, and in 2014, approximately 4 percent of Seattle’s immigrant population was undocumented.