"Emilio, can you please pass the beans?" my mother asked me during breakfast this morning I gave her the bowl of pinto beans while watching the news for that day. As I was watching the news coverage of the local basketball game, the headlines "2020 CENSUS WILL ASK FOR CITIZENSHIP" came over the screen.
Suddenly, the news switched to a full-on debate about the issue, with conservative contributors arguing that other countries such as the UK, Australia, Canada, France, and Germany ask the citizenship question on their censuses (Stempel). The liberal contributors argued back, stating that this was being used as a strategy to skew the numbers of immigrants living in the political districts to their advantage. As I turned to get a tissue, I saw that my mother was watching the screen intensely.
After the news segment ended, my mother turned to me and said: "Unless you already know the person, do not answer the door for anyone, no matter what". I nodded at this but did not understand why she was very serious about this. "It will be highly unlikely for them to visit us," I told myself. As I picked up the plates from the kitchen, I saw a notification on my mother's phone; it read "Residents in your country should expect for people from the Census Bureau to visit their homes this week".
The drapes were closed for that entire week, as my mother was adamant that we could not be interviewed for the Census; on Tuesday night, I asked her why.
"Because then they will found out our status, and we could be deported" she explained. "I worked very hard for us to have a better life here, and that could easily be ruined by someone coming here and asking us questions".
"Yes Mom, but the Census Bureau is not going to share our information with any other departments; they're not legally allowed to do that (Jordan)" I replied. "And because of that, we can tell the truth that we are not citizens in this country, they are not legally able to give out that information".
"I don't believe that not at all. I will never forget how your tio Roberto was caught. He was just sitting in his house when ICE came in; they just took him without an arrest warrant or anything. He's back in Guadalajara now, the same could happen to us if we tell them about us" my Mom said.
"Mom, while that was bad that that happened to tio, that's a different case. The Census literally can't let ICE know, that would be illegal. Also, by avoiding the Census, don't you know that that will affect US Politics for the next ten years?"
"Well, do you see politics in this room right now? Does it help me pay the bills, at work, or with you and school? I can't afford to pay attention to politics right now, I can only focus on you and me, that's it. And what happens… happens. I'm doing the best I can for us to live in this country without being caught by ICE or the INS" my Mom argued.
"Well then what if E-Verify is mandated in our state? Conservative lawmakers know that by adding the Citizenship question on the US Census, illegal immigrants, like us, will not participate in it, skewing the numbers of people in each district. This would allow for easier redistricting, giving conservatives more political leverage to pass laws such as that. Therefore, by illegal immigrants like us that refrain from participating in the Census, we are stripping ourselves of representation in the US population. Mom, I know that you're scared, but please, it's important that you participate in this"
A knock is heard at the door; Emilio and his mother go silent.
"Hello, this is Sam from the Census Bureau, I am here to take your information for the 2020 Census".
He continues to knock.
Silence soon follows after this.
NEWS UPDATE: In a historical record, our county flips Republican for the first time ever. Many believe that this was due to the inclusion of the 2020 Census, which included the controversial Citizenship question. This caused redistricting in our county that many believe led to a Republican congressman being elected.
NEWS UPDATE ( 2 years later): In a close vote, E-Verify in our state has been approved, and will go into effect next month. E-Verify is a system that requires employers to verify that their employees are US Citizens, green card, or work visa holders. It is predicted that this will cause massive layoffs in the state, as many employers do not currently use this system, allowing the opportunity for illegal immigrants to work.
For Further Reading: