For more than two years, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has been advocating for and communicating the importance of a complete 2020 Census count. As the September 30 deadline to complete the Census rapidly approaches, the Chamber’s efforts continue stronger than ever. Currently, San Antonio has a Census response rate of 63.8%, slightly ahead of Texas’ 60.6% response rate, but behind the national response rate of 65.2%.
Along with timely and ongoing communication with the Chamber’s 1,850 members, the organization recently sent a letter to President Trump and the Director of the United States Census Bureau Dr. Steven Dillingham, who spoke to the Chamber delegation in February during our 2020 SA to DC trip. The Chamber expressed concern over the recent change in the deadline from October 31 to September 30 and President Trump’s order to exclude undocumented residents from the 2020 Census tally. The Chamber believes that the two proposals will significantly affect our community’s ability to get a complete count, which will directly affect much needed resources our community receives.
To that end, the Chamber also joined forces with organizations and companies across the country to further express support for extending the statutory reporting deadlines for the 2020 Census. Eighty-seven business groups and companies warned Congressional leaders that a rushed census in the midst of the current public health crisis will harm every state, every business, and every industry in the country relying upon the resulting data.
“We have been focused on removing barriers and making it as easy as possible for San Antonio and Bexar county residents to complete their census questionnaires. The information from the Census drives economic growth, secures necessary funding for our community, and prepares our city for the future,” said Chamber President and CEO Richard Perez. “An undercount of Texas’ population by even 1% could result in a $300 million loss of federal funding that we will desperately need coming out of the pandemic.”
Ensuring a complete count for the 2020 census has been an ongoing priority for the Chamber. In May of 2018, the Chamber sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross opposing the citizenship question, and in March of 2019, the Chamber submitted comments to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) over the same issue. In June 2019, the Supreme Court blocked the U.S. Census citizenship question.
Late last year, Chamber President and CEO Richard Perez penned an OpEd for the San Antonio Express News outlining the importance of a complete count and urging businesses, churches, and civic organizations to encourage their members and connections to complete their questionnaires. Additionally, the Chamber launched a website wholly dedicated to communicating the importance of the Census and providing employers and organizations with information and tools to share with their networks.
“We are very appreciative of the work the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce has done to ensure a complete count of everyone living in our community,” said Berta Rodriguez, Census Administrator for the City of San Antonio. “Richard Perez is a Steering Committee Member of the San Antonio Bexar County Complete Count Committee and has been instrumental in engaging the business community with messages on how to reach both their employees and consumers.”