Latino organizations in the US have expressed concern that the 2020 census may have undercounted Latinos, which some have said could be linked to former President Donald Trump's efforts to change census rules.
Earlier this week, the Census Bureau announced that Texas would gain two additional seats in the House of Representatives following the latest population count, while Florida and a number of other states gained one.
The new official apportionment numbers, however - which led to no additional seats to Arizona - have led to some concern among Latino advocacy organizations and electoral experts that Latino residents were undercounted, particularly in areas with rapidly growing Latino populations like Texas, Florida and Arizona.
The apportionment numbers, which last for 10 years, have significant political impact. Over the next decade, the figures will help determine where hundreds of millions of federal funds go and will likely lead to redistricting that can create new political opportunities for politicians and for both parties.
The redistricting will take place after more detailed results are released in August.
Various Latino organizations, however, have expressed concerns that Latinos may have been undercounted in several parts of the country.
Arturo Vargas, the CEO of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Education Fund, for example, said that his organization was "surprised" by the figures.
"The figures reflect the second-slowest population growth in our nation's history," he said in a statement. "States with significant Latino populations projected to gain congressional seats either failed to do so (Arizona), or gained fewer than projected (Florida and Texas)."
"The Bureau and other statistical sources will provide more information that will help us understand the quality of this data," Vargas added. "The initial results are surprising enough that once more details are released, we will be able to better determine to what extend the Latino population was fairly and accurately counted."
While various factors may have impacted the overall census vote - ranging from the Covid-19 pandemic to natural disasters - some analysts laid part of the blame on a 2019 effort by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question to the census. The effort was later blocked by the US Supreme Court.
"It caused people to not respond to the census," Kimball Brace, the president of the political consulting firm Election Data Services, was quoted as saying in the Arizona Daily Star. "As a result, they were all lower than what they were anticipating."
"If you got all of those press reports and commentary and everything 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."
The surprise was perhaps most evident in Arizona, which failed to gain a single congressional seat despite its population growing 11% over the course of the last ten years to reach 7.1 million people.
On Twitter, local Democratic state senator MartÃn Quezada, said that part of the blame lays with Governor Doug Ducey.
"I proposed legislation that would further fund census efforts in areas that were most impacted by Covid-19 and the resulting undercount," he wrote.
Greg Stanton, a congressman serving Arizona's 9th district - said in a separate statement that "Arizona leaders undermined the census count in our own state."
"Governor Ducey refused to stand up for Arizona and instead followed former President Trump's strategy to intimidate Latinos and discourage their participation in the census," he said in a statement. "Rather than make up for it with a robust effort to encourage participation, Arizona spent far less than its peer states. When real-time data showed Arizona's response rate was near the very bottom, state leaders looked the other way."
"These poor efforts will do much more harm than cost Arizona a congressional seat and more influence on Capitol Hill," Stanton added, noting that the "failure" will cost the state billions of dollars in federal funds for schools, healthcare, emergency management, veterans, and infrastructure.
"it is another case of failed leadership that will hurt Arizona for years to come," Stanton concluded.
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