By Sentinel News Service
Sacramento, CA – As the Trump Administration actively works to intimidate millions from participating in the 2020 census, the California Senate Public Safety Committee today passed AB 1563: The Freedom to Count Act.
The bill, authored by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), aims to ensure that all Californians have access to accurate information about the census, and have the opportunity to participate in the census without fear of fraud, intimidation, or harm.
“We cannot afford to lose the valuable resources and representation that come with a census count that includes every possible Californian,” said Assemblymember Santiago. “In order for our democracy to work, everyone must be counted. In order for everyone to be counted, our communities need to be free from fear of intimidation.”
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez added, “It is critical that every Californian fills out the census, but our president is determined to undercount our immigrant residents at any cost. This measure will help us restore public confidence in the census process by making it illegal to impersonate a census worker and preventing false information about the census from circulating.”
Efrain Escobedo, Vice President in charge of education and immigration programs at the California Community Foundation added, “AB 1563 recognizes that participating in the census is a fundamental and constitutional right that should be afforded to every person and every community; free of any form of attack or intimidation. California should continue to lead in ensuring a complete count of all.”
If enacted, AB 1563 would make it a misdemeanor crime to dissuade someone from participating in the census count in any of the following ways:
- Falsely representing oneself as a census taker
- Falsely assuming the role of a census taker
- Distributing false or misleading information about the census through mail, television, radio, telephone call, text message, email, social media or any other electronic means, including over the internet.
- Knowingly interfering with the right of another person to participate in the census count.
The bill now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinel.