Story at a glance:
- Early indications suggest there may have been an undercount of Latinos in the most recent Census, experts say.
- Some undocumented residents might have been deterred after Trump tried to exclude them with a mandatory citizenship question.
- The lack of representation could cost local governments.
Former President Trump might have caused an underrepresentation of Latinos in the fast-growing population in the Sun Belt states, stretching across the Southeast and Southwest, including Southern California, experts warn.
On Monday, the Census released its early population numbers, which state America has a population of 331 million people, a 7.4 percent increase from the 308 million recorded in 2010. Trump tried to exclude undocumented immigrants from the 2020 Census, leaving behind many of those who identify as Latino.
While Texas and Florida gained seats in the House, some might say the numbers of seats were smaller than expected, POLITICO reported.
"There is a serious issue with undercounting of Hispanics in this Census," Sam Wang, a professor who runs the Princeton Election Consortium and Princeton Gerrymandering Project, said via Twitter, Salon reported. "The states that underperformed relative to July 2020 population estimates included Texas, Florida, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada — all Hispanic-rich states. A real risk of poor representation."
California is expected to lose a Democratic seat, which is the first time in history this is happening.
It is important to note Trump's effort to change the Census did not work, but the notion of excluding undocumented immigrants might have deterred some from participating in the Census, experts say.
"It caused people to not respond to the census," Kimball Brace, president of the redistricting consulting firm Election Data Services, told the Arizona Daily Star. "And, as a result, they were all lower than what they were anticipating… If you got all of those press reports and commentary and everything else talking about how much Trump doesn't want people to respond if they're Hispanic, you don't necessarily have to have a question on the survey."
Election data expert Dave Wasserman of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report tweeted lackluster counting in Arizona, Florida, Texas and California may suggest a "larger-than-expected, systemic undercount in heavily Hispanic areas."
A much more detailed account of the Census is due in August, and that’s when the process for congressional redistricting can begin.
"The initial results are surprising enough that once more details are released, we will be able to better determine to what extent the Latino population was fairly and accurately counted," Arturo Vargas, president of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, told The Los Angeles Times.
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