By Brooke Shafer

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County leaders on Wednesday made another call for people to fill out their 2020 Census. Leaders highlighted a low response rate in Miami-Dade, sitting at 59.4 percent according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s website.

“There’s no excuses,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner and Census Liason Esteban Bovo. “We are not only jeopardizing the next 10 years of our community, we’re leaving millions of dollars on the table.”

Commissioner Bovo on Wednesday joined several local mayors and county leaders to make the push for better response rates outside Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital, the only public hospital in Miami-Dade County.

“Think about the folks that sometimes get hurt. Our police officers when they get hurt, they come here to Ryder Trauma,” said Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales. “This center needs federal dollars. So much of our quality of life is dependent on being counted and making sure we get all the dollars we can get.”

The U.S. Census Bureau is ending all counting efforts for the 2020 Census on September 30. The deadline is now one month sooner than previously announced. The results of the U.S. Census help direct billions of dollars in federal funds and determine the number of Congressional seats given to each state.

“The emphasis is to get it done,” said Bovo. “There’s no excuse to not get it done.”

In Miami-Dade County, Palmetto Bay currently has the highest response rate with 78.3 percent. The City of Bal Harbour’s census response rate is the lowest in Miami-Dade County with 27.4 percent.

City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced on Wednesday they will launch a campaign to increase response rates to the 2020 Census on September 1. “I am begging you, as residents of the City of Miami, please fill out the form.”

The statistical agency is dealing with a shorter schedule for door-knocking than it anticipated earlier this summer. Facing pandemic-related delays in April, the Census Bureau had asked Congress for delays in handing over data used for redrawing congressional and legislative districts, and it pushed back wrapping up its data collection through door-knocking or self-responses from the end of July to the end of October.

The request passed the Democratic-controlled House, but it’s not going anywhere in the Republican-controlled Senate. The inaction coincides with a memorandum President Donald Trump issued last month to try to exclude people living in the U.S. illegally from being part of the process for redrawing congressional districts.

On Wednesday, Mayor Suarez said the Census is about “resources and representation.”

“For purposes of funding, everyone should be counted,” said Mayor Suarez.

To fill out the census, click here. To see how well your city is responding, click here.

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