If you’ve ever done much research on your family history, you’ve likely run across old census records. These yellowed documents—many hand-written with quill and ink by enumerators who went door-to-door to gather the information—were used to determine how many representatives each state had in Congress. Today’s Census is still incredibly important, but now it is much more high-tech. It involves cutting-edge technology, years of planning, extensive research, and thousands of Census workers across the country. Far from being a thing of the past, the decennial Census count that takes place every ten years determines crucial day-to-day realities for all residents in the U.S. It determines voting and school districts, political representation, and how billions in federal dollars are spent across the country—including $6.2 billion every year in New Mexico alone.
Amid fears that a lack of money will prevent an accurate count, states are gearing up to identify the people the 2020 U.S. Census is most likely to miss, from trailer-park residents in New York to people living in shantytowns in New Mexico. Residents of isolated rural areas, immigrants, and people who just don’t trust the government are among those who tend to be undercounted in the decennial census. The apportionment of U.S. House seats and nearly $590 billion in annual federal funding depend on the count, so state and local officials have a keen interest in making sure their residents don’t fall through the cracks. This story originally appeared at Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts. The current task for state and local officials is to verify the Census Bureau’s residential address list: Starting in February, the bureau will turn over address lists to states and local governments for double-checking that must be finished within 120 days.
ROSWELL — Count Saul and Claudia Rubalcaba among a growing demographic that’s changing Southeastern New Mexico. Both came to the state 15 years ago from a town just outside of Chihuahua City, Mexico. As they settled into a new city, Claudia started working at a restaurant called Taqueria Jalisco while Saul worked as a plumber fixing sprinklers. Last year, the married couple got an offer from Taqueria Jalisco’s owners—move to Roswell and manage a new franchise on the south side of the city. “In the beginning we said no,” Saul explained in an interview on a recent weekday sitting with Claudia in a booth in their restaurant.
ROSWELL – In a packed gymnasium, Vanessa Tarango canvasses a crowd gathered to take advantage of public hours being held today by Consulate General of Mexico in El Paso. Tarango is a member of Somos Un Pueblo Unido, a statewide immigrant rights advocacy group that’s here to recruit new members. She and half a dozen other canvassers are scattered throughout St. Peter’s Parish gym in downtown Roswell. Here, flocks of people are waiting in line for help with their immigration documents, which include green cards and consular identification cards.