Puerto Rico mayors urge public to comply with 2020 U.S. Census
Say island stands to lose $55 billion in federal funding with potential undercount
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Mayors Association made an “urgent” call to island residents on Wednesday to fill out required 2020 U.S. Census forms, warning that the low participation registered in the process so far could cost the island “up to” $55 billion in federal funds.
“The worst consequence for Puerto Rico is that we could lose up to $55 billion in federal funds over the course of a decade, if we don’t quickly increase the compliance. This is at the rate of $5 billion annually,” the association’s vice president, Villalba Mayor Luis Javier Hernández, said during a press conference alongside the association’s second vice president, Guayanilla Mayor Nelson Torres Yordán, and Vega Alta Mayor Oscar Santiago Martínez.
The mayors noted that census undercounting could result in the island losing out on federal funding assigned for healthcare, housing, education and transportation projects, among other services directed to Puerto Rican communities.
During the press conference, the association presented details of a media campaign to promote participation in the U.S. Census count, including a promotional video and informational briefs that will be distributed through social media, publications and public announcement systems.
Giselle Laffitte, who heads the U.S. Census efforts in Puerto Rico presented the island’s most recent census compliance figures, which ranged between 16 percent and 36 percent participation among distinct municipalities.
The list of the 15 municipalities with the best compliance rates is headed by Guaynabo, where 37.9 percent of residents had filled out census forms by the week of Aug. 17, Laffitte said. It was followed by the municipalities of Santa Isabel, Bayamón, Dorado, Toa Alta, Caguas, Gurabo, Salinas, Guayama, Juana Díaz, San Juan, Toa Baja, Trujillo Alto, Juncos and Carolina, which registered compliance rates of between 27 percent and 36 percent.
The list of municipalities registering the least number of responses to the census as of Aug. 17 was headed by the island-municipality of Culebra, with 15.9 percent, followed by the towns of Vieques, Maricao, Maunabo, Adjuntas, Aguas Buenas, Guánica, Jayuya, Las Marías, Orocovis, Rincón, San Sebastián, Aibonito, Lares y Morovis.
“We must respond quickly and we must comply, because the loss of economic aid could be decisive for the island moving forward,” Laffitte said. “The process to fill out the form is fast and simple. Personal information [provided] is totally confidential and protected by federal law.”
The census official said that the census does not ask for your social security number or any banking account information. She said that more information on the process can be obtained by accessing the official website for the census: 2020census.gov.