Latino leaders say 2020 census participation critical for Illinois' Latino population

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Stand up and be counted! That's the message today about the 2020 census in Illinois, and it's also the hottest topic at a conference for Latino elected officials, community leaders, and organizations.

"Our biggest message for today and the next year is census, census, census," said IL State Senator Omar Aquuino, co-chair of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation, or ILLCF. "It's so important in 2020."

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More than 1,000 people, including about 20 elected officials, attended the ILLCF's scholarship luncheon Friday in Oak Brook. The one-day conference even included a panel on census 2020, reminding everyone how critical the issue is next year, especially for Latinos.

U.S. Congressman Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, the luncheon's keynote speaker, said Latinos "have the most to win and the most to lose" because the official count influences policies, and that translates to funding on all levels.

"I'm talking about resources," Rep. Garcia told the crowd. "It's also known as money or funding. I'm talking about power. The ability to influence policy from Washington D.C. to the state legislature to city hall."

For the 2020 census, you can expect the following:

  • The census will be online for the first time.

  • A postcard will be sent in March to remind you to complete the census.

  • You will receive five postcards to remind you.

  • If you don't complete it, a census worker will knock on your door by mid-May

As of 2018, Illinois had a Latino population of 2.21 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Chicago's population has remained stable from 2010-2018, rising by less than 1%, according to the census. Any growth in the Latino population is happening outside the city. When you look statewide from 2010-2018, the Latino population is increasing at a faster rate of 9%.

Congressman Garcia said Latinos must "overcome fear and confusion" about census 2020, referring to the battle that killed a question about citizenship.

"The citizenship question is no longer there," said Oswaldo Alvarez, Illinois' Statewide Census Director. "With the citizenship question not there, there are like nine questions. The census form should take no more than 9-10 minutes to fill out."

Along with discussing census 2020, ILLCF also awarded scholarships to 25 college and university students. During it's 17 year history, ILLCF has given students about $600,000.
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