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Bysiewicz Quells Census Fears

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The Chronicle, Thursday, January 16, 2020


Bysiewicz Quells Census Fears

By CLAIRE GALVIN, ­­CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER

'We don't want anyone to be afraid to fill out the Census form'

WILLIMANTIC — Local and state leaders gathered Wednesday to remind residents about the importance of the upcoming census.

But in addition to merely reminding folks to participate, Wednesday’s event at Generations Family Health Center in Willimantic aimed to relieve concerns about respondents’ privacy and protection, especially when it comes to local immigrants.

Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz visited Generations to discuss the 2020 United States Census.

" The governor and I have been on a mission to make sure that we meet all the challenges of the digital divide, hard- to- count areas, and the challenge of the citizenship question," Bysiewicz said. " We don’t want anyone to be afraid to fill out the Census form."

Nationally, the Trump administration has targeted immigrant populations, with federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials conducting regular sweeps of undocumented immigrants.

This has caused consternation among many immigrant populations who are fearful that, if they fill out census forms, they’ll be

deported, even if they’ve lived in this country most — if not all — of their lives.

Wednesday, Bysiewicz was accompanied by U.S.

Census Congressional and Tribal Senior Partnership Specialist Eva Bunnell.

Soon after the gubernatorial election, Bysiewicz directed both state and local efforts on the importance of the complete count, especially in hard- to- count communities.

" In this area, we have predicted that more than 35 percent of the population are not likely to self- respond," Bunnell said. "It’s power and it’s money."

Census data is used to calculate federal funding, congressional and state legislative districts.

Windham is considered a hard- to- count community because of its college student population, rental population and low- income population, among others.

Speakers also attempted to relieve concerns among immigrant populations who might not feel safe being counted.

" There are many people in our community who are underserved and the resources to meet those needs won’t be there if people aren’t counted," said state Sen. Mae Flexer, D- Killingly.

Several other community partners spoke on the importance of the U.S. Census, such as state Rep. Susan Johnson, D- Willimantic; newly elected state Rep. Brian Smith, D- Colchester; state Rep. Pat Wilson Pheanious, D- Ashford; Windham Town Council President and Acting Mayor Thomas DeVivo; Generations CEO Arvind Shaw; Willimantic Public Library Director Daniel Paquette; Eastern Connecticut State University Student Conduct Director Christopher Ambrosio; and Generations Health Center Advocacy Coordinator Susan Beauregard.

" We’re the boots on the ground," Beauregard said. "Our patients talk to us about other concerns beyond their medical conditions. We anticipate that patients are going to have questions about the Census."

Beauregard also serves as chairperson of the Windham No Freeze Project Board of Directors.

Bysiewicz and Bunnell explained the Census process going forward.

Between March 12 and March 20, United States residents will receive a letter in the mail to respond online to the 2020 Census.

A second reminder letter

will be sent between March 16 and March 24.

Areas that are less likely to respond online will receive a paper questionnaire along with their invitation.

Census workers conducting in-person counts will be the last option for residents.

Part-time Census workers are still needed to facilitate those counts.

More information about the Census is available at census.gov.

Follow Claire Galvin on Twitter - @ CGalvinTC.

In this area, we have predicted that more than 35 percent of the population are not likely to selfrespond. It’s power and it’s money.

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