LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The YMCA-LA are sending “youth ambassadors” to 10 Grab & Go locations this week, including the Mid Valley Family YMCA in Van Nuys, to encourage participation by diverse communities in this year’s US Census.
In the effort, which continues through Friday, Aug. 14, the YMCA-LA will activate its first Census Youth Ambassador Program to recruit and train youth volunteers from the community to assist with census education and outreach.
The Grab & Go centers were put in place to provide meals to children forced to stay at home when schools were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Census Youth Ambassador Program includes 500 people and was launched earlier this year to encourage teens to affect change in their own environments.
Officials with the outreach program said young people in immigrant communities are often trusted to interpret information and guide families through important decisions. Tablets and other census resources will be on hand for people to complete the federal questionnaire.
“Through my work as a youth ambassador, I’ve come to recognize that federal reports such as the decennial census affect me and my community directly,” said Mariela Barrales, YMCA-LA Teen Census Ambassador. “My parents and several of my friends and neighbors can’t vote in government elections due to their immigration statuses. Despite this, legislation is passed that affects them daily. Although they can’t vote in city, state, and nation-wide elections, every ten years the Census gives them the opportunity to make their voices heard because responses are completely confidential and cannot be legally shared.”
Last month, President Donald Trump issued an executive order directing that this year’s census exclude immigrants in the country illegally from the count that determines how congressional seats are apportioned.
The memo — which is under legal challenge from several nationwide Democratic office holders including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — notes that the US Constitution calls for a count of “persons in each state” for purposes of allocating congressional seats, and argues that since the count historically excludes tourists and foreign diplomats, it is not required to count everyone physically present at the time of the census. Trump said including people illegally in the country is not in keeping with democratic principles.
“Excluding these illegal aliens from the apportionment base is more consonant with the principles of representative democracy underpinning our system of government. Affording congressional representation, and therefore formal political influence, to states on account of the presence within their borders of aliens who have not followed the steps to secure a lawful immigration status under our laws undermines those principles,” the memo states in part.
“Increasing congressional representation based on the presence of aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status would also create perverse incentives encouraging violations of federal law,” the memo said.
The youth ambassadors’ final appearance at the Mid Valley Family YMCA occurred on Wednesday, Aug. 12.