Willacy County, Texas is urging residents to fill out the census

A rural south Texas town is working to make sure its citizens are counted in the census, it is not always easy.

In Willacy County, Texas farms and fields take up more space than neighborhoods. There is not tons of money or opportunity here. The Willacy County Commissioner, Eliberto Guerra, states, “No, we don’t have a large economy as far as jobs are concerned.”

Add to that, farmers in Willacy County have had a rough time in 2020 with, not only COVID-19, but also Hurricane Hanna in July.

According to Guerra, “It’s very difficult because this year was one of those years. When we had Hurricane Hanna come in and actually all the farmers had to destroy their cotton because the hurricane messed up the cotton crop for this year, and it trickled down.”

He says that about 80 percent of the money circulating in these boundaries comes from the federal government.

In order to obtain necessary federal government benefits, the county needs everyone to fill out the census forms, but there has been a snag. County officials believe that a lot of people are not filling out the forms.

“That’s going to affect us pretty bad in a negative way, because we’re not going to get the funding we’re getting in the past years, in the future, because of the lack of people to participate in the census,” he adds.

Guerra wants to note that it is not necessarily the farmers who need the census done properly; it is more the county that needs funding to keep things going for this farming community.

There is fear that in places like Willacy County, there are reasons not everyone is filling out their census form: “I think with all this immigration issues that have been going on, people just don’t want to be counted, or they’re afraid.”

Guerra says that it is hard to convince immigrants they will not get caught if they fill out their forms. He says that the county has tried everything, including barbecues, to get people out to fill out their census so this farm-based county can keep running smoothly.