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Local census leaders push for more participation

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File Photo City and county leaders continue to urge census participation, especially in the Valley area, where self-response rates are lower.

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City and county leaders continue to urge residents to fill out their 2020 Census forms and encourage others they know to do so, as they are still several percentage points away from their goals.

Reminder postcards will be mailed by the Census Bureau this week, the final printed notice that residents will receive before census workers start visiting those who have not responded either by mail, phone or internet.

“The Roswell Complete Count Committee is committed to seeing that we end up with 50,000-plus population,” said Marcos Nava, the head of the area committee. He also serves as the executive director of the Roswell Hispano Chamber of Commerce.

Nava staffs a booth each Saturday morning at the Farmers’ and Gardeners’ Market, which is held from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Chaves County Courthouse on North Main Street. People who complete their surveys can receive gift cards to local restaurants.

According to the most recent data posted by the U.S. Census Bureau from Thursday, Roswell has a 60.6% response rate, while Chaves County has a 57.4% response rate. Statewide, 52.2% of known households have responded. Nationally, the self-response rate is 62.4%.

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“We are looking for 64.4%,” said Louis Jaramillo about the county self-response rate. He heads the county committee for the area’s Complete Count group and is the director of the Chaves County Planning and Zoning Department.

“Our numbers are still low in the Valley area, but we have refocused and we are going to do the best we can to address those numbers,” Jaramillo said.

He said the committee is working with residents, employers and first responders to make sure that all people living in the county are counted.

Jaramillo said census data indicates that there are at least 2,100 households in the Valley that have not completed a survey. The Census Bureau projects 28,500 residential units in that area, he said.

According to the Census Bureau data, the self-response rate as of Thursday for Dexter was at 29.7%. It was 36.5% for Hagerman and 39.8% for Lake Arthur.

According to the I Count New Mexico website, every 1% undercount in New Mexico means a loss of $780 million in federal funding for the state for such programs and projects as nutrition, highways, housing, education and health care. Each person counted represents about $3,475 a year in federal funding, or $34,750 over the survey period. Residents are required by law to complete a survey every 10 years.

Data collected is also used by researchers for a variety of purposes, and it determines the number of state and congressional legislative seats for various areas.

The Census Bureau continues to stress the confidentiality of all survey responses, in light of a recent memo issued by President Donald Trump that he wants undocumented residents omitted from population counts when determining congressional seats. So far, three federal lawsuits have been filed against the Trump Administration, contending that the exclusion would violate the U.S. Constitution, federal law and administrative law.

 

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