Operations include hand-delivery of census to households in 16 New Mexico Counties.
The U.S. Census Bureau has reopened its field office in Las Cruces, paving the way for 56,500 southern New Mexico households to receive hand-delivered materials needed to participate in the census, I Count NM announced Tuesday.
The field offices have been deemed essential businesses and, as such, the Las Cruces office is following the state’s COVID-19 Safe Practices for essential businesses. With the reopening, households in 16 New Mexico counties can now expect to receive the packets that include census forms and the unique ID needed to be counted online.
Counties covered by the Las Cruces field office are Catron, Chaves, Curry, De Baca, Doña Ana, Eddy, Grant, Hidalgo, Lea, Lincoln, Luna, Otero, Roosevelt, Sierra, Socorro and Valencia.
“We have been encouraging the federal government to resume delivery of Census forms to households across New Mexico as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. “Reopening the Las Cruces office is a positive move by the U.S. Census Bureau and will help ensure that all residents of southern New Mexico have the tools they need to participate in the 2020 census.”
All field offices had been closed since March 18, when the Census Bureau suspended all hand-delivery of census materials due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no timeline yet for reopening the field office in Albuquerque or Window Rock, Ariz., which collectively cover the remainder of New Mexico counties. Together, those two field offices serve more than 100,000 New Mexico households that are still waiting for their census packets.
Nearly 20 percent of New Mexico households rely on hand-delivery of their census forms – one of the highest rates in the United States. Nearly 100 percent of Catron County residents, for example, rely on hand-delivery. With such a large part of the population excluded, New Mexico’s response rates have been artificially low.
“If you haven’t received your census form, you haven’t missed your chance to participate,” the governor said. “Your community is relying on you to complete your form as soon as it arrives.”
Census workers have been trained to follow current health and safety guidelines, including social distancing protocols and no-contact delivery of census forms. They will wear official government-provided personal protective equipment for their safety and the safety of the public.
The Bureau will consult with individual tribes to establish schedules for resuming operations in those communities.
The U.S. Census Bureau has provided these FAQs regarding the reopening of field offices and these FAQs regarding tribal lands.
U.S. households have until Oct. 31 to complete Census forms. Once households receive their Census packet, they can fill it out online at my2020census.gov, over the phone or by mail.