NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA) – The newest United States Census Bureau Data released Thursday, shows the Natural State’s 2018 birthrate was the lowest of this decade, despite the population continuing to grow.
A boom in the immigration population could be the reason behind it.
“Immigrants have become absolutely invaluable to both the social and economic fabric of Northwest Arkansas. Our kids are able to go to school with other children from different parts of the world and that’s being brought into their learning in ways that enriches everybody,” says Mireya Reith, Founding Executive Director Arkansas United
According to the Northwest Arkansas Council, by 2022, the region will be nearly 18 percent Hispanic or Latino. That may not be the case if a controversial citizenship question is added to the 2020 census.
“All of us in Arkansas, but especially here in Northwest Arkansas, should be gravely worried about that citizenship question because our community is nervous about whether this is going to be a safe census for them to participate in,” says Reith.
The Supreme Court will soon decide whether the Trump administration will be granted the ability to question a person’s citizenship on the 2020 census. The question asks, “is this person a citizen of the United States?”
With the fear of deportation or interrogation from ICE, immigrants in NWA say they may not take the census.
“If our community doesn’t show up Northwest Arkansas threatens to lose a huge tax base that is right now helping fund our public school system and local services,” says Reith.
Northwest Arkansas had a big growth in the number of congressional seats because of the population growth and results from the last census.
If the census is not accurate, that number could drastically change along with the amount of state funding.
“We have a bigger voice than ever right now and we are going to risk losing that voice and that political influence if our immigrant community doesn’t show up,” says Reith.
A hearing to decide if a citizenship question will be added to the 2020 census is expected to be held next week.