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El Paso falls behind in census response, and that could cost county millions of dollars

census information
Reuters via CNN
A person holds census information.

EL PASO, Texas -- El Paso County Commissioners were given some staggering information Monday about the 2020 census.

The number of people responding to this year's census is down from the 2010 census.

And that could mean fewer dollars and impact legislative representation for the Borderland.

"Yeah I received it. It's there at home. But I haven't gotten to it yet. I'll probably go home and do it right now," said Ashley Saldivar, who says her census form is somewhere in her westside home.

And Saldivar is not alone.

Commissioners were told as many as 150,000 El Pasoans still have not responded to this year's census.

That could cost our community billions of dollars.

"Over 2 billion dollars, that's what our community would miss out on. And that means for road, transportation infrastructure, for schools, for our hospitals," County Commissioner David Stout said. "And if we don't get that money from the federal government, but we still need to spend that money, where do you think that's gonna come from? It's gonna come from local taxpayers."

Census data analysis coordinator Jacob Meils broke down the numbers for the commissioners.

He said people living in Ysleta, Socorro and Clint school districts responded to the census either online, by mail or phone and are above the national average at 70 percent.

"It's hard to put into words just how much school funding is determined by census dollars. And when we know there are schools that have been closed," Meils said.

Meils singled out El Paso Independent School District, as a school district  falling behind, a school district which this year and last year, was forced to close schools due to decreasing student population numbers. That in turn translates to reduced funding from the state.

It's the same school district Saldivar's children attend school in.

"One of the easiest ways you can increase your child's education is by increasing funding. And one of the easiest ways to increase funding is by filling out your census. And census dollars help our schools," Meils said.

Saldivar and the other 150,000 El  Pasoans who haven't responded have until Sept. 30 to fill out the census.

The data collected by the census determines the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives and a wide range of federal funding programs.

Article Topic Follows: El Paso

Saul Saenz

El Paso native Saul Saenz is a veteran reporter who also hosts ABC-7 Extra.

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