Why people refused to fill out the census form
A group of Fullerton College journalism students fanned out around Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties, looking for people who refused to fill out a census form and to find out why, given the census’ importance is allocating federal funds.
Perhaps predictably, people fearful of their residency status avoid any and all contact with government, but surprisingly, more people in our informal survey declined to fill out the census form because, they said, they distrust the government.
Here are some of the people the students met; some gave their names, others did not.
Not a political person
Dakota Hunt, 29, lives in Long Beach and is a partner in Clockwork Screen Print &
Embroidery in El Segundo. He often works 12 hours a day. (That's Hunt in the
picture at right.)
He says he does not consider himself to be a political person, doesn’t vote locally
but occasionally does for federal elections. Other than to “prove that you exist,”
he was unfamiliar with the reasons for the census. He said he associates the
census with politics and that it “hadn’t crossed his mind to participate.” He said
he is unsure if the census affects him directly. – Rachel Lopez
Family of 4 thinks census will be used against them
A Hispanic housekeeper in Orange said her family of four did not fill out the
2020 census because of their immigration-related fears. The woman, who
declined to give her name, said she thinks their answers to the 2020 census will
be used against them in the future. – Kiara Espericueta
Family of 5 fears link from census to deportation
A family of five in Anaheim with a father who works in construction – that is all
the information they would allow to be used in referring to them. This immigrant
family has little documentation and lives in a rental unit with another family.
One of the members of that family recently was deported.
Both families fear the U.S. Border Patrol will target them and that the census will be used to deport them. -- Daniel Arceo-Rodriguez
Information technologist says census “not important”
An Internet technology support specialist from Anaheim said the census is “not really something I find important . . . I don’t think it really makes a difference. Life will go on just fine whether I fill it out or not; just like voting, it doesn’t make a difference to me.” – Eileen Arriaga
Unclear about census objectives
Ayne Ocampo, a medical translator from Garden Grove said: “I would hear about it in the news but I don’t really know what it is . . . I haven’t really bothered looking into it because they haven’t reached out to me that I would need to fill it out or take action about it. I don’t know what or why I would need to do it.” – Eileen Arriaga
Linking the census with voting
Jose Villarruel, 20, is a student at Santiago Canyon College. He isn't a citizen of the United States, but he is here legally because he was granted DACA status. (Deferred immigration Action for Childhood Arrivals). He hasn't taken the census because he thinks it goes hand-in-hand with voting, which DACA recipients aren't allowed to do. "I honestly don't know the difference … my parents never really taught me anything and I basically see no point in filling it out," he said. He also wasn't sure if he was required to take the census or not.
– Myron Caringal
Engineer says no incentive to fill out census
Randon Hurd, an engineer from Anaheim, said he lacks incentive to fill out the census; he also said he is not well informed on what the census is nor why he has to fill it out. He did say he has heard people he works with talking about it. – Daniella Alvarez
Doesn’t want government knowing anything about him
Zach Johnson is a Real Estate Agent. He said he does “not like the government knowing anything about him." As for the lost $1,800 in federal funding for each uncounted person, Johnson said "the funding isn't worth the information." – Daniella Alvarez
Says census bring more money to politicians
Emily is 52, lives in Fullerton, works for a cleaning company and refused to complete the census form, saying it is just a way to get more money to the government.
She has lived in the same neighborhood for 15 years and says little has changed. She and her neighbors have complained constantly about the road conditions.
She also claims her children's schools have stayed the same throughout the years with few improvements compared to schools in neighboring cities.
She says her livelihood is forgotten by the city which is supposed to use its money to help its citizens. – David Saldana
Doesn’t like to give personal information
A 43-year-old man in Eastvale, Riverside County, father of three, said he never likes giving out personal information to the U.S. government. He says that he just does not feel comfortable giving out information that has to do with him and his family. He believes that the census is not crucial information for the government to have and believes he deserves privacy. He believes personal privacy is a natural-born right. – Andrew Trevino