Supervisor Ridley-Thomas Introduces Urgency Motion to Ensure Fair and Accurate Census Count

In response to yesterday’s unanticipated announcement that the 2020 United States Census  (Census) data collection deadline will now be shortened by more than a month, to September 30, 2020, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas introduced an urgency motion at the Board of Supervisors meeting for immediate action to be taken to elevate the concerns of LA County to ensure a fair and accurate Census count.

Specifically, the motion directs the LA County Chief Executive Officer to send a 5-signature letter to the United State Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census (Bureau) and United States Congressional leadership expressing these concerns. It also directs County Counsel to monitor the Bureau’s guidance with data collection timelines and to file or join litigation in opposing the Bureau’s decision.

“One of the most important rights we have is our hard-won right to vote, a right integral to our democracy and directly related to the results of the Census. So we must make sure that we stand up for all to be counted,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “To be undercounted is to be underrepresented and to be underrepresented is to be under-funded—we cannot lose sight of what this means for LA County.”

On August 3rd, Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced that the Census would conclude Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) and in-person interviews on September 30th, instead of October 31st. This announcement came as a shock to local governments as the October deadline set for data collection was determined in April 2020 by the Bureau. This date was previously extended due to the persistent challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the data collection period is now being shortened for reasons unknown.

A complete and accurate Census count is crucial to allocating over $675 billion in federal government resources for residents in the United States. LA County’s vast and diverse constituency has historically been difficult to measure with many hard-to-reach populations, including people experiencing homelessness. Therefore, prudent action must be taken to ensure all residents are equally represented in all levels of government, which also impacts the adjustment of electoral districts.

“The County of Los Angeles is one of the hardest-to-count areas in the United States and we need to ensure that all of our residents are counted in the 2020 Census. Our diverse community deserves an accurate count to improve the quality of life for all residents,” said Koreatown Youth and Community Center Executive Director Johng Ho Song.

“When it comes to the Census, South LA’s numbers are extremely important to the County. The County of Los Angeles’s count is extremely important for the State of CA. When LA goes undercounted, the entire state loses—funding, representation and resources,” added Community Coalition President and CEO Alberto Retana. “That is why Community Coalition has been working so hard to encourage residents to participate in the 2020 Census. It gives us the chance to strengthen our public health infrastructure, the lack of which is being exposed by COVID-19 right now. Taking the Census is another way we can step up for each other, and our communities, during this pandemic.”

This shortened Census timeline follows a recent presidential memorandum excluding non-citizens from Census allotment, presenting more barriers for the fair allocation and equitable representation for Angelenos and United States residents.

Supervisor Ridley-Thomas Urges NACO and CSAC to Oppose the Presidential Memorandum Excluding Non-Citizens from Census Allotment

As local government agencies assess the magnitude of the detriment that could be caused by the recent Presidential Memorandum by the Trump administration, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas urges the National Association of Counties (NACO) and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) to take action.

“While this memorandum from the Executive Branch is not surprising, it’s nevertheless a reckless attack on immigrant communities throughout the country, in particular, Los Angeles County, and on this nation’s democratic system. The action seeks to circumvent the unequivocal ruling of the highest court in the nation, said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas. “I cannot sit idle in this attempt to undercount communities of color that are already disproportionately underserved. Racism and xenophobia are at the heart of this memorandum and it must not be allowed to stand.”

In his recent letters, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas urged both organizations to take action to oppose the Presidential Memorandum excluding non-citizens from the apportionment base following 2020 United States Census.

“The Department of Consumer and Business Affairs champions the County’s commitment to provide support services to all its residents,” said Joseph M. Nicchitta, Director of the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. “Every person must be counted in the 2020 Census for the County to receive its fair share of federal funds to provide its residents with much-needed services like health care, education, and good roads.”

On July 21, 2020 the Trump Administration issued a Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce titled “Memorandum on Excluding Illegal Aliens from the Apportionment Base Following the 2020 Census.” It is the latest in anti-immigrant action by the Executive Branch.

Earlier this year, the Trump Administration attempted to insert a citizenship question in the United States (U.S.) Census (Census). This effort was defeated when, Attorney General Becerra and his coalition, which included Los Angeles County, secured a victory in their lawsuit to oppose the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. The district court ruled that the citizenship question was unconstitutional and unlawful. On June 28, 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion deciding the legal challenge brought by many states on this issue.

As a result, on August 1, 2019, the district court entered final judgment permanently enjoining the Secretary of Commerce from including a citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire and from asking a citizenship question as part of the 2020 Census.

“Getting counted in the 2020 Census is easy, quick and safe,” said L.A. County Office of Immigrant Affairs Executive Director Rigo Reyes. “It is our right to be counted, no matter what our immigration status is, and we can do it by mail, online and phone in most languages – send your form today!”

“Morning Joe” Broadcasts from Crenshaw High School

How do schools in the Second District help encourage learning, promote excellence, build a strong learning community, and ultimately promote jobs?  Crenshaw High School is undergoing a process of empowerment and transformation at a local community level serving as an example for schools and communities across the nation.


The L.A. Urban League’s Blair Taylor discusses the Neighborhoods@Work program, which helps address issues in urban communities as they pertain to Crenshaw High School and the Crenshaw/LAX Line job creation.