As COVID-19 (or the coronavirus) pandemic continues to grow, impacting normal activities and continues to impacts our lives daily, it is our utmost concern that all our communities remain safe and healthy. We understand that many of our communities within their sovereign governments have decided to close their borders to all but their tribal citizens and employees as a precaution to protect their tribal citizens. Read our statement on COVID-19 and the U.S. Census.
We offer this page as a resource. As decisions are made by the U.S. Census Bureau on field operations, we will update this page.
Beginning in March, the Census Bureau adjusted field operations and paused activities that were to take place by person-to-person visits and large gatherings – including those scheduled in tribal nations – to protect the health and safety of their employees and the public.
A quick timeline:
- March 13, 2020 – Census questionnaires are scheduled to be delivered door-to-door (Update/Leave) in tribal communities.
- March 18, 2020 – NM Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham announces a Stay-at-Home Order to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus in NM.
- March 21, 2020 – All Census activities are paused until April 1.
- March 28, 2020 – All Census field operations are suspended an additional two weeks to April 15.
- March 30, 2020 – Trump extends social distancing guidelines until April 30. The U.S. Census Bureau, however, makes no official announcement of changes in its schedule.
- April 6, 2020 – NM Gov. Lujan Grisham extends Stay-at-Home order to April 30.
- April 13, 2020 – The U.S. Census Bureau announces adjustments extending the window for field data collection and self-response to October 31, 2020. The Census Bureau requests Congress to approve a delay to deliver the population (apportionment) counts to the President to April 30, 20201 and delivery of the redistricting counts to states by July 31, 2021.
- April 28, 2020 – U.S. Census Bureau Tribal Partnership Specialists announce that Update Leave is slated start in New Mexico on June 13. The specialists also stated that any tribal citizen who has already completed the Census will have to re-submit the Census questionnaire using the 12-digit ID number on the questionnaire. The Census Bureau’s Tribal Affairs Team has created an Update Leave flyer with an explanation on using the 12-digit ID number.
- August 3, 2020 – The U.S. Census Bureau announces final adjustments ending field data collection and all self-response in the U.S. to end September 30, 2020 instead of October 31, 2020.
The NMNCC is working under a new timeline the Bureau issued as of August 3. We’ve added some helpful definitions:
- The self-response phase ends to September 30.
- The new deadline date for all households in the U.S. to respond to the 2020 Census.
- Update Leave
- When a questionnaire is delivered to a home – the address is verified/or updated and the Census employee leaves it on the door
- Update enumerate is extended to June 14 – July 29.
- When a household has not responded, a Census employee visits the home to verify/update the address and enumerate (count) the household members.
- Read the April 1 issued adjusted U.S. Census Bureau schedule here.
- Non-response Followup (NRFU) begins August 11
- The self-response phase ends to September 30.
- When a Census Bureau worker visits the home of a person who has not responded to the Census.
- Tribes have sovereign control of their lands and the Census Bureau must enter into an agreement or MOU to enter tribal land. Many tribes will hire their own tribal members for this process.
In New Mexico
Update leave operations started in at least four (4) Pueblos but were suspended due to the impact of COVID-19 in June. Some Tribal nations since have closed their villages and reservation borders to protect and address the impact on tribal citizens. As circumstances change in their individual tribal communities, Tribal Nations determine when Census Bureau personnel may enter tribal lands.
At the April 3 meeting of the NMNCC, members of the Coalition agreed to continue following the decision made by Tribal Leaders through the government-to-government consultation process with the U.S. Census Bureau to have the Census Questionnaires delivered to each household in their community. Tribal residents were encouraged to wait for the delivery of their Census questionnaire with the 12-digit Census ID code to ensure each household is counted. As of August, all tribal nations in New Mexico have received their questionnaire forms with the exception of the Jicarilla Apache Nation.
At the August 7 meeting of the NMNCC, members of the Coalition agreed that it was imperative that all tribal residents be counted with or without the 12-digit Census ID code to ensure each household is counted and included in the overall count and meet the deadline of September 30.
To support tribes during these challenging times, the NMNCC is providing suggestions and resources, ideas and strategies. Here are a few recommendations for considerations:
- Place door hangers or flyers with up-to-date information.
- Download a “reminder” flyer on the Resources page, which can be tailored to your community.
- Utilize newsletters and social media (where available) to speak about the Census and its importance as appropriate.
- Utilize phone banks to call people to remind them to complete the Census questionnaire and/or respond to questions they may have.
- Purchase iPads, tablets, laptops or jetpacks to help community members access and fill out the Census questionnaire.
- When conditions allow, offer to schedule appointments for those who need assistance. For example: 3 slots in the morning (9, 10 and 11 a.m.) and 3 spots in the afternoon (2, 3 and 4 p.m.) to allow time for discussion and cleanup/disinfecting.
We have also created a “No, you did not miss the Census” and a “Census is Coming” flyers for communities that are available on our Resources page. This is in response to several tribal residents who thought they missed the Census and expressed this to their Tribal CCCs. A tribal logo can be placed on the flyers, and it is in several different formats to edit.
Tribal CCCs and enumerators can also receive text updates and here are some materials from the state of NM and its contracted marketing agency to keep abreast of changes and aid in outreach during the COVID-19 crisis:
- Text Census to 505-560-8848 to receive information and updates about the census
- Several outreach toolkits are available at icountnm.gov/toolkits
- Additional ready-to-print materials available at icountnm.gov/resources
- There are some Congressional representatives who have plans to ask Congress to push the Census due dates back so that there is more time to do accurate counts because of COVID-19. This is being led by Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Adriano Espaillat of New York along with 10 other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus members who are urging the Census Bureau to continue the count for an additional three months through October. They have also asked the Census Bureau to update Congress regarding changes to 2020 Census operations in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. New Mexico Congressional Representative Deb Haaland has also joined the call for a Census deadline extension.
- Since the cessation of Census activities, NAVAEP has also sought funds and donations to gather Wi-Fi hotspots for Native communities in need. Information about the NM Tribal WiFi Hotspot Program.
In addition, our partners at Census Counts Campaign have also put together a memo to help provide guidance on field operations and messaging.
- Messaging Guidance (Page 1)
- Updates to Census Bureau Operations (Page 2)
- Field Guidance and Resources to Plan Remote and Digital Outreach (Page 6)