About the Census: Information for immigrants
The US Constitution requires that every 10 years, the federal government take a count, or a census, of America's population. The census is a very important measurement of our City, as these numbers will be used for the next ten years for a number of purposes, including:
It determines how many Representatives each state gets in Congress and is used to redraw district boundaries.
Communities rely on census statistics to plan for a variety of resident needs, including new roads, schools, and emergency services.
Each year, the census numbers are used by the federal government to distribute $675 billion to states and communities for programs that support education, housing, health facilities, transportation, emergency services, food assistance, and more. The state of Arkansas receives more than $9 billion a year through federal spending programs guided by data provided in the 2010 census!
Businesses use census data to determine where to open places to shop.
The 2020 Census begins in March, 2020.
Do I need to answer the census if I came to the US from another country?
Yes! It's important that everyone living in the US on April 1, 2020 be counted, even if you are from another country living here temporarily to work or go to school; whether you are a US citizen or not. The census information can be used to help protect civil rights laws and determine when services should be provided in other languages. It can also be used to attract businesses that cater to communities with diverse populations.
As immigrants, your power is in your numbers! Census data drive many public programs and help determine where and what kinds of goods and services are provided in communities. Be counted to be sure your needs are taken into consideration!
What kind of questions are asked on the census?
The census asks questions about who is living in your place of residence on April 1, 2020, called "Census Day." You will be asked to provide the name, age, date of birth, race, gender, and relationship to the person answering the questionnaire. Click here to view a sample of the 2020 census questionnaire.
Is it safe for me to complete the census? Is the information I give the census confidential?
Yes. By law, the Census Bureau may not share your information with any other entity, including immigration or law enforcement agencies. By law, your responses cannot be used against you by any government agency or court in any way. The information you provide is not used to determine taxes, to decide if you are eligible for government benefits, or any other purpose other than statistics, The Bureau completes a report on the overall demographics of each area, but individual information is not shared, and those records are sealed for 72 years. All Census Bureau staff take a lifetime oath to protect your personal information, and any violation would incur a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison.
Will there be a question about citizenship on the census questionnaire?
No. The US Supreme Court has decided that the citizenship question could not be added to the 2020 census. The census forms have already been finalized without this question.
How do I complete the census questionnaire?
The US Census Bureau will offer three ways to respond: internet, telephone, and paper. People can respond in 12 non-English languages over the phone or via the internet.
How will the census questionnaire come to me?
In March, 2020, postcards will go out to households all over the country with information about the census, and instructions about how to answer the census questionnaire online. The questionnaire will take only a few minutes to complete.
In May, 2020, professional census-takers will begin to follow up in person, calling or visiting households that have not yet completed the census. They will be clearly identified as employees of the US Census.
The City of Fort Smith 2020 Census Local Complete Count Committee is comprised of local, “trusted community voices”. These “trusted community voices” are chosen based to their reputation, community participation and/or their affiliation with specific community groups.
The purpose of the Local Complete Count Committee is to bring awareness of the 2020 Census and its impact to the City of Fort Smith and Rivervalley region by providing educational opportunities through outreach. We strive to archive this through in-person town-hall meetings, public events, multi-media campaigns and area canvassing in our mobile kiosk. The vehicle will be used to distribute informational material before April 1st and we foresee it being used as a mobile Census Access Point allowing convenient access points for our residents to complete the census. We are currently identifying and evaluating strategic touring routes for the vehicle.
The City of Fort Smith used a simple recruiting strategy for the members of our Local Complete Count Committee. We looked at our population demographics and recruited those who have proven impact with the greatest numbers of our population. We also recruited those who have daily interactions with our hard-to-count populations. The idea is to engage those community leaders/influencers that can convince the greatest number of our citizens to participate in the 2020 Census.
Local Complete Count Committee Members
Jennifer Goodson, Executive Director, Fort Smith Public Library. The Fort Smith area has four library locations that will serve as kiosks to assist residents that do not have access to internet and/or those who are not computer literate.
Zena Featherston-Marshall, Executive Director, Communication & Community Partnerships, Fort Smith Public School District. By educating our students about the 2020 Census we are hoping to reach their caregivers through them. Especially those who speak English as a second language.
Alex Sanchez – AVP, Community Development Senior Representative, Arvest Bank. Trusted voice for one of our hard-to-count populations. Recognized voice for community engagement
Talicia Richardson, Social Action Chair of the Fort Smith Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Trusted voice for our civic organizations and social clubs. Recognized voice as a community change agent and community development.
Chris Joannides, Executive Director, Riverview Hope Campus. Hope Campus offers comprehensive services that address the basic needs of an individual. Trusted voice with our homeless and transitional population.
Sam Price, Resident and Community Advocate. Trusted millennial voice in the community. Provides a voice for those who have questions about government operations.
Deanna S. Rice, Executive Director, SRCA, Fort Smith Senior Activity Centers. Trusted voice and caretaker of our senior population.
Eddie Lee Herndon, President and CEO, United Way of Fort Smith. Trusted Community Leader able to provide access and collaboration with other local and regional outreach agencies.
Pastor Paul Davis, Senior Pastor, St. James Missionary Baptist Church. Trusted voice in our faith community.
Lorie Robertson, Director of Marketing, Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority/Chaffee Crossing. Trusted Community voice and community leader of our newest development area which is home of our new Medical School and several industrial partners.
Janice Scaggs, Field Representative, Congressman Steve Womack Office. Trusted community voice
Chris Chaney, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner, Valley Cuts Barber and Spa. Trusted community voice in the small business community as well as in one of our hard-to-count populations.
Rham Cunningham, Things to Do in Fort Smith. Trusted community voice. Radio personality, host of community events that reaches the masses of our community.
Patrick Weeks, President and CEO, United States Marshals Museum. Trusted community voice in the arts, museum and historical sites community.
Taylor Wewers, University of Arkansas, Fort Smith Student Leader. Trusted voice among the student population. Accompanied by Dave Stevens, Dean of Student Affairs, UAFS.
Jarred Rego, Founder, Fort Smith Forward. Trusted community voice and visionary among our Facebook community groups.
Thao Le, Vietnamese Community Association of Fort Smith. Trusted community voice in one of our hard-to-count populations.
Debra Young, Future Fort Smith, Board Member. Trusted community voice that works directly with our city comprehensive plan for development.
Jennifer Burchett, Resident, Fort Smith. Trusted community voice within specific community populations.
Pastor Julio Gomez, Joy of My Soul Baptist Church, Radio Vida 102.3 FM. Trusted community voice and leader in one of our hard-to-count populations.
Heather Edwards, Executive Director, Literacy Council of Western Arkansas. Trusted community voice among out hard-to-count population.
Patti Kimbrough, Executive Director, Good Samaritan Clinic. Trusted community voice within our hard-to-count populations.
Heather Dean-Sanders, Executive Director, Community Rescue Mission, Inc. Trusted voice in our homeless and transitional community population.
Wansley Harrison, LCSW River Valley Primary Care Services. Trusted voice in within our hard-to-count populations.
Judge David Hudson, Sebastian County Judge. Trusted voice within Sebastian County.
Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce – Partnering organization that will provide assistance with social media, materials distribution and access to their membership database for outreach and education.