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Cook County Commissioner Puts Out Multilingual Effort To Get People To Fill Out Census

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois is in the top ten for states that have responded to the U.S. Census, yet some parts of Chicagoland could be undercounted because of a language barrier.

CBS 2's Lauren Victory on Monday showed us one attempt not to lose out on millions of dollars in federal funding.

It has been seven weeks since the 2020 U.S. Census hit mailboxes, and when it comes to responses, Illinois is hitting the national average. But it's a different story when you take a closer look.

McHenry County is 20th best for response rates in the entire nation. But Cook County is ranked 1,054th.

"I'm going to continue working as hard as I can," said Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison (D-15th).

Through videos that employs comedy and cute animals, Morrison tried to rev up response rates in the northwest suburbs where his district is located.

Census takers were supposed to start heading out next week, but are delayed until at least June because of COVID-19.

Morrison also planned to go door-to-door. The virus forced him to go digital.

Commissioner Morrison's YouTube Channel

After his lighthearted videos at Brookfield Zoo, Morrison put out some more serious videos to address a real issue – using multiple languages including Urdu.

"We have a large South Asian community, and it did not turn out at the Census in 2010," he said.

Though more than 25 percent of people in towns like Hoffman Estates self-identify as Asian, Morrison said as few as 5 percent were counted during the last census.

So he paired up with native speakers of Urdu, and Gujarati, a common language in India, to encourage participation.

One of the most important messages to get across – information submitted will be kept private.

"There is still, unfortunately, a lot of distrust with government – and with just how our history has unfolded and how we have treated immigrant communities," Morrison said.

Answers about race, age, and gender could mean more funding for certain programs, such as Medicare, daycare, and arts education, census videos have pointed out.

It proves that a community's demographics are just as important as a community's population count.

More Of Lauren Victory's Stories On The 2020 Census

Morrison said every person missed in the census will mean $14,000 to $18,000 lost.

He is working to produce videos in Hindi, Korean, Polish, and Spanish as well.


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