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2020 Census FAQ

What is the Census? 

Every 10 years, the U.S. government counts every person living in the U.S., through the census. The census is a short questionnaire that asks basic information about your household and the people who live in it. Your personal responses are confidential. 


What questions will the Census ask? 


The Census asks only 9 questions including age, race, and ethnicity of every person living in your household. This information is important because it helps determine funding for schools based on the number of young people in your area, and transportation needs based on total population. 


Check out the questions that the Census is asking this year. You will probably not get this form in the mail, most people will be invited to fill out the census through the secure website or the phone system, but you can read this version to see what questions the Census will be asking. (available in English and Spanish) 


What does the Census determine? 


Data from the census are used to divide over $1.5 trillion dollars of government funding for important services, like schools, libraries, food stamps, and health care. Data from the census are also used to divide up political representation in Congress, in your state capitol, and in cities and towns across the country; a complete count means fair representation for your community. Many businesses also use census data to make decisions about business development and investment.


How can I participate in the Census? 


The main way to participate in the 2020 Census is online. The Census Bureau will send you instructions in mid-March 2020. 


You can also respond by phone. Call the Census Bureau to answer the census by phone and ask questions about the census. If you do not respond to the census online or by phone, the Census Bureau will mail you a paper questionnaire in mid-April. 


If you do not respond, starting in May 2020, a census employee might come to your home to ask for the information in person. You can still respond online or respond by phone through September 30. 


Who should be included on my Census form?


Include everyone who lives at your address! This includes:


  • ALL children who live in your household, including grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and the children of friends.

  • Children who split their time between households, if they are living with you on April 1, 2020.

  • Newborn babies, even those who are still in the hospital on April 1, 2020.

  • Anyone who is living and sleeping in your household most of the time, including aunts, uncles, cousins, and roommates.


Read more on this fact sheet from Asian Americans Advancing Justice.


Is participating in the Census safe and confidential? 


Information you provide on 2020 Census forms is confidential. Federal law prohibits Census information from being shared with other government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. Additionally, your information will be secure when participating in the Census online. 


Read more: 2020 Census security and privacy explained (Yalla Count Me In)


Will the 2020 Census ask about my citizenship status? 


NO, the 2020 Census will NOT ask you about your citizenship status. The Supreme Court stopped President Trump from adding this question to the 2020 Census. You will not have to provide your citizenship information on the Census. 


On the Census, EVERYONE counts, including people who are not citizens. The Constitution says that the Census is a count of all people living in the United States, regardless of their citizenship status. 



Why does ICIRR care about the Census? 


ICIRR’s mission is to promote the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society. Participation in the Census is an essential part of civic life, and directly impacts federal resources for immigrant families and allocation of Congressional seats to Illinois. 


What is ICIRR doing for the Census? 


ICIRR is leading a group of 63 organizations across Chicago, Suburban Cook County, and the Collar Counties to achieve a complete count of our communities. Our partners are canvassing, holding community education events, and providing questionnaire assistance to ensure that our communities are counted in 2020. 

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