The US conducts a nationwide census every 10 years, and one is being held in 2020. The results matter, because population distribution determines the allocation of over $1.5 trillion in federal government benefits. As such, groups and cities that are undercounted could miss out on benefits that otherwise would have been theirs.
The problem with the African immigrant community is that many of its members are undocumented and, understandably, fear they will be deported if they reveal their name and address in the census. In fact, the census is not used to determine whether someone’s presence in the US is illegal. The reason why, of course, is that to do so would encourage undocumented immigrants to hide from the census, thereby defeating its purpose.
The Columbus Mayor’s Office is orchestrating an effort to encourage vulnerable groups, including undocumented African immigrants, to participate in the census. Actions taken by the Trump administration in the past, however, including targeting many local Mauritians for deportation, have made it difficult for government officials to win back the trust of the African immigrant community.