Houston’s $6 Billion Census Problem: Frightened Immigrants

Natasha Rausch at Bloomberg: “At Houston’s City Hall last week, Mayor Sylvester Turner gathered with company CEOs, university professors, police officers, politicians and local judges to discuss a $6 billion problem they all have in common: the 2020 census.

City officials and business leaders are worried about people like 21-year-old Ana Espinoza, a U.S. citizen by birth who lives with undocumented relatives. Espinoza has no intention of answering the census because she worries it could expose her family and get them deported….

Getting an accurate count has broad economic implications across the city, said Laura Murillo, chief executive officer of the Hispanic Chamber. “For everyone, the census is important. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or Democrat, black or white or green.”…

For growing businesses, the census is crucial for understanding the population they’re serving in different regions. Enterprise Rent-A-Car used the 2010 census to help diversify the company’s employee base. The data prompted Enterprise to staff a new location in Houston with Spanish-speaking employees to better serve area customers, said the company’s human resources manager Phil Dyson.

“It’s been one of our top locations,” he said.

Doing the Math

Texas stands to lose at least $1,161 in federal funding for each person not counted, according to a March report by Andrew Reamer, a research professor at the George Washington Institute of Public Policy. Multiplied by the estimated 506,000 unathorized immigrants who live in the nation’s fourth-largest city, that puts at stake about $6 billion for Houston over the 10 years the census applies.

That’s just for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. The potential loss is even larger when grants are taken into account for items like highways and community development, he said…(More)”.