I was a field supervisor for the 2020 Census, and I have long believed the underlying message of the census that everyone counts.
I enumerated people waiting to enter food programs as well as people living on the street and in shelters. Many were reluctant to participate.
“I’m not a citizen,” they would say.
“No one gives a damn about me.”
“I don’t want to give my information.”
I’d reply that the US Constitution states that everyone in our country is to be counted. “You and your children matter,” I would tell them. I meant it. Those who believed me would fill out the census form.
That fragile trust that they matter could be broken next month. On Nov. 30, the Supreme Court will take up the Trump administration plan to eliminate noncitizens from the count. At stake is the credibility, indeed the legitimacy, of the 2020 Census — and the trust people placed in our government, and in me as a representative of that government, that they count.