Census Bureau Revisions Could Change Latino Political Clout


The Census Bureau is rethinking how it defines race in light of the ever-shifting minority population in the United States.
According to an NPR radio story, “The Census Bureau is considering numerous changes to the 2020 survey in an effort to improve the responses of minorities and more accurately classify Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and multiracial populations.” But that has some in those groups concerned that their political clout could be weakened.
The story said, “The stakes surrounding population counts are high. Race data collected in the census are used for many purposes, including enforcement of civil rights laws and monitoring of racial disparities in education, health and other areas. In addition, the information is used to redraw state legislative and local school districts, and in the reapportioning of congressional seats. The strong Latino growth found in the 2010 census guaranteed additional seats in Congress for eight states.”
The wording in the 2010 census question, which asked people if they are of Latino origin and then provided a space to fill in their race, yielded a strong response and a record count of 50 million Latinos. Their growth moved them ahead of African-Americans as the nation’s largest minority group, according to the NPR report.
“We’re the only group in the country that has our own question? Why give it up?” says Angelo Falcon, director of the National Institute for Latino Policy. “A lot of Latino researchers like the question the way it is now because it shows those differences. The way the Census Bureau is thinking about combining the questions, it might take away that information in terms of how we fit within the American racial hierarchy.”