(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—This week, the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties held a hearing on “Getting Counted: The Importance of the Census to State and Local Communities.” 


  • The Census is the basis for everything from the Electoral College to government funding for Medicaid.  Melva Miller, Executive Vice President of the Association for a Better New York, testified businesses make key operational decisions based on Census data and thousands of jobs rely on an accurate Census.  Undercounted communities are at risk of losing their fair share of all those resources.
  • New York City contains large portions of historically undercounted communities, including young children, racial and ethnic minorities, non-English speakers, and low-income persons.  Joseph Salvo, Chief Demographer for New York City, noted that some parts of New York experienced an undercount so severe that tens of thousands of New Yorkers were not included.
  • Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigrant Coalition, emphasized the need to fund community-based organizations, which are critical to reaching hard-to-count communities.  An inaccurate decennial survey jeopardizes their access to government funding and representation, as well as business opportunities and jobs.
  • Greta Byrum with the New School Digital Equity Laboratory testified that the push to have residents respond to the Census online threatens to compound the undercount in historically underrepresented communities that are unlikely to have reliable access to the internet.


Panel One

Gail Mellow


LaGuardia Community College

Julie Menin

Census Director

City of New York

Joseph Salvo

Chief Demographer, Population Division

NYC Department of City Planning

Melva Miller

Executive Vice President

Association for a Better New York

Steven Choi

Executive Director

New York Immigration Coalition

Panel Two

Marc Morial

President and CEO

National Urban League

Greta Byrum


New School Digital Equity Laboratory

Elizabeth OuYang

Civil Rights Attorney, Educator, and Community Advocate

Jorge Luis Vasquez, Jr.

Associate Counsel

LatinoJustice PRLDF

Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq.

General Counsel

Center for Law & Social Justice

Kazi Fouzia

Desis Rising Up and Moving