Concerns Over Citizenship Question Linger As Tompkins County Prepares For Census


ITHACA, NY (WSKG) – Even though it will not be on the census form, Patricia Fernandez de Castro worries the debate over adding a citizenship question has confused a lot of people. 

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Media

Patricia Fernandez de Castro. August 13, 2019. (Photo: Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Media)

“My concern is that a lot of people who are not citizens might have been spooked by the back and forth and it is going to be very difficult for people to trust that they will not be asked that question.”

Fernandez de Castro is with the Latino Civic Association in Tompkins County and attended a Tuesday night public meeting on the census.  Since federal funding often depends on the census count, Tompkins County has begun preparations. It officially begins next March.

So everyone is counted, Fernandez de Castro wants county officials and other influential people to actively promote participation in the census.

“To help them overcome that fear of the census” she said. “That there are real safeguards in place that can be trusted by the public. But, I think it’s very important that people in positions of power say so, repeatedly and reach out to immigrant communities and reassure everyone.”

She said the Latino Civic Association also will work to let immigrants in Tompkins County, so they know they should respond to the census.