Making Our Lives Count In The #2020Census

“So yeah,” my housemate said between using napkins for her nose and her tears. “I got laid off with the entire staff at the bar today. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

As much as I wanted to be present for this conversation, I couldn’t stop checking my phone. A chill gripped me, an ice-punch to the gut, as I watched my retirement savings plummet from modest to shreds, as I could do nothing but look on.

The terror of seeing our local economies and global infrastructure collapsing at the same time is, for many of us, all too much.

When we look to the proverbial East toward our elected leaders, aid is slow to come. As of this writing, Congress is locked in a partisan fight over a $2 trillion stimulus package that may very well be the defibrillator needed to resuscitate the bleeding heart of our national economy. Even if it does manage to get passed, though, we already know who will be the last to recover.

The marginalized communities and hard-working immigrant families that we serve every day at MAF will receive, at best, pennies for each dollar needed because they are invisible. The census plays a central role in officially registering them nonexistent given that immigrants have been deemed among the “hard-to-count” populations for decades. This means that every government funding measure for years, from school lunches to (potential) COVID-19 stimulus checks have been guaranteed to be inadequate for those who needed it most.

The 2020 census is expected to exacerbate this even further. The White House has been actively sowing the seeds of fear through violent policies like ICE raids, border community militarization, and the recent, failed attempt to add an immigration question. People are frightened by any knock on the front door for the devastation it could bring to their lives. Add to this reality the current COVID-19 epidemic and the picture turns several tones grimmer.

At MAF, we are doing what we can to step up. In the immediate, we are delivering several million dollars of emergency support through our Rapid Relief Fund to those in need. In the long-term, we are fighting so that the next trillion-dollar government aid package, if there is one in the following decade, goes to fill the right hands. Quick action needs structural change in tandem, if it’s to last. For us, the census is our chance to make a difference beyond the day-to-day.

Our goal is to ensure that 100% of our clients are counted.

To do this, we’ve partnered with a technology studio, super{set}, to build a tool that can help us communicate with more of our clients, faster and smarter. We’ve leveraged automation and analytics to be able to confirm that all of our 3,000+ clients participate in the civic moment that shapes every aspect of our lives. We’ve learned best practices on messaging with our initial coalition of trusted partners who are engaging their own communities of clients with our tool across email, SMS and phone.

Armed with these assets, we’re continuing to move fast in ensuring that every immigrant is counted and knows they belong. We can’t do it alone. Each non-profit organization exists within its own world of influence and, only together, can we cover the patchwork quilt that is the vibrant diversity of our nation.

We are living in an historical moment and can all do more than simply look on. If the communities we serve are to emerge not just ready to survive, but to thrive, we must.

Let’s make our lives count.

Tomás Quiñonez
Campaign Manager at MAF

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