PATERSON, NJ- According to Wikipedia the City of Paterson has a population of 148,678. And while with the birth of his first son earlier this week Mayor Andre Sayegh can rightly claim that number has increased by one, he believes there are actually over 150,000 people that call Paterson home.
The undercount, Sayegh repeated often on the campaign trail and since assuming office, is costing Paterson critical federal resources that could help fund schools, road repairs, and other projects that draw from the city’s coffers, and is something he said he won’t let happen again when the US Census Bureau conducts its once a decade count in 2020.
“It is essential that we get an accurate count on the 2020 Census so that our residents get the resources we deserve,” Sayegh told TAPinto Paterson. Speaking directly to the magic number of 150,000 that would make Paterson a “first class city” by federal government standards Sayegh said that “we believe we are already there, now it’s time to make it official.”
Adding a potential complication into obtaining an accurate count is a proposal by the Trump Administration to add a question asking respondents whether or not they are citizens of the United States.
In an environment where immigrants are already experiencing heightened concern about bringing any unnecessary attention to themselves or their status, many community advocates, including Inge Spungen, executive director of the Paterson Alliance, are doing their best to eliminate any obstacles to maximizing response rates.
Spungen, who has offered her belief that Paterson’s population is possibly as high as a 170,000, told TAPinto Paterson that their efforts are focused on “reducing fear” when it comes to being counted.
Though a recent court decision that allowed for a lawsuit filed against the citizenship question to proceed was a “positive sign,” Spungen said their is more work to be done.
To that end Spungen offered that the Paterson Alliance will be hosting a meeting to discuss efforts to get an accurate count with the organization’s 70 member groups in September and urged residents to be heard more immediately by submitting their concerns online before Monday’s deadline.
Asked whether President Trump, known to make his own decisions, will be swayed by public sentiment Spungen clarified that even though he holds some sway it is up to the Census Bureau to conduct the count, before concluding that “if enough people know what’s happening people will stand up and fight.”
Confirming his own opposition to the citizenship question Sayegh said that in a meeting earlier this week with the Census Bureau he was assured that “it is 100 percent safe to answer,” and that responses are bundled together, not delivered individually.
“Stand up and be proud to be counted,” Sayegh urged.