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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

With Caravan Of Cars, Immigrant Groups Urge Little Village Neighbors To ‘Be Counted’ By Census

Amid a statewide stay at home order, groups have had to get creative putting street teams to work while being safe.

Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), along with community partners Enlace and Taller de Jose, took to the streets of Little Village promote Census Day.
Brandon Lee/ ICIRR
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LITTLE VILLAGE — A dozen-car caravan traveled through Little Village Wednesday encouraging neighbors to be counted in the 2020 Census.

The Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, along with community partners Enlace and Taller de Jose, took to the streets in the majority Latino neighborhood to promote Census Day, a key reference date for the 2020 Census.

April 1 is not a deadline for the Census, but the government does use this date to determine who should be counted and where they live in the once-in-a-decade count. When Chicagoans respond, they should include everyone who usually lives and sleeps in your home as of April 1, 2020.

People began receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census in mid-March, and it can be completed online, over the phone of by mail.

People can respond to the census before or after they receive that invitation, but they should respond as soon as possible to make sure they are counted.

Starting May 27, Census takers will interview homes that haven’t responded yet. That work will continue until August 14.

The final date to fill out the Census online is August 14.

Credit: Brandon Lee/ ICIRR
Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), along with community partners Enlace and Taller de Jose, took to the streets of Little Village promote Census Day.

For years, the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights and neighborhood groups have spread the word about the importance of the Census.  But amid the coronavirus pandemic and a statewide stay at home order, groups have had to get creative putting street teams to work while being safe, said the group’s spokesman Brandon Lee.

Lee said they have stepped up social media efforts and phone banking in the wake of the pandemic. The caravan was another way to have a presence in the neighborhood while urging people to be counted, he said.

Credit: Brandon Lee/ ICIRR
Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), along with community partners Enlace and Taller de Jose, took to the streets of Little Village promote Census Day.

The U.S. Census Bureau counts the country’s entire population every decade as mandated by the U.S. Constitution. The count provides critical data to lawmakers as they distribute billions of dollars each year based on it, including federal funding for to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources .

Census counts also determine the number of seats each state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives, and they are used to draw congressional and state legislative districts.

“I can’t emphasize enough how high the stakes are right now,” Lee said.

Little Village is among neighborhoods that have traditionally been hard to count, Lee said.

Hard-to-count areas are often communities that include a number of residents who don’t speak English, are newly arrived immigrants or more renters who frequently move around, Lee said. They also have low rates of internet access, Lee said.

But the Trump administration’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations have also sparked fear in the community, advocates said.

U.S. Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has urged immigrants not to be deterred by Trump’s “crass politics.”

Credit: Brandon Lee/ ICIRR
Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), along with community partners Enlace and Taller de Jose, took to the streets of Little Village promote Census Day.

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