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Officials concerned many will avoid US Census

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Local leaders are asking for help- they want people to stand up and be counted in the 2020 census.

The fear is that people may dodge census workers and that it could cost the state millions in much-needed tax dollars.

The US Census is more than just counting bodies.

It’s used to determine federal funds for schools, medical programs, low-income families, and much more.

During the 2010 census, officials say Florida missed out on 1.3 million people, that is billions of federal funds we’ll never see, not to mention, seats on Capitol Hill.

“Equivalent to two or three congressional seats, why do we want to give them to some other state? We need them here,” said Dominic Calabro with Florida TaxWatch.

For 2020, there are legitimate concerns some minority groups will not participate.

“Part of it is distrust for government,” said Sarasota City Commissioner Shelli Freeland Eddie.

There have been many recent crackdowns on illegal immigrants.

And this summer, the Supreme Court rejected a White House request to place a citizenship question on the census forms.

“When the government comes to your home to count how many live there, there is this emotional breakdown that happens,” said Freeland Eddie.

So the city of Sarasota is teaming up with local organizations to get the message out- there is no reason to fear.

“You are constitutionally protected even though you’re not a US citizen, it is against the law for census takers to ask about your immigration status,” said Freeland Eddie.

The nonprofit group ‘Unidos Now’ is working with the city to reach the Hispanic community.

“The fear is very understandable, but at the same time we have to do a really good job at easing those fears and assuring people that the census is really, really important and everybody needs to be counted,” said Luz Corcuera with Unidos Now.

This will also mark the first time you can take part in the census online. Census day is April 1, 2020.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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