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New Census Memorandum ‘Discriminates’ And ‘Disenfranchises’ Says Casa San Jose Executive Director

Michelle R. Smith
Casa San Jose Executive Director Monica Ruiz warns that undercounting Pittsburgh's Latino communities is "setting those communities up to be underserved."


On today's program: A presidential memorandum on the U.S. Census could impact historically undercounted communities; the Biden campaign’s recommended climate change policy and the impacts on the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania; and how the candidates' policies on climate change might influence voters in the November election. 

Casa San Jose encourages people in undercounted communities to fill out the 2020 census
(00:00 — 5:47)

President Trump signeda memorandum last Tuesday that, if enacted, prohibits undocumented immigrants from being included in the census count when drawing congressional districts. The order is another attempt to change the constitutionally mandated count of persons in the country. Last year, the Supreme Court rejected his attempt to ask respondents to the census if they are U.S. citizens.

Casa San Jose, a community resource center and advocacy organization for Latinos in the Pittsburgh area, is encouraging these undercounted communities to fill out the census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nationally, about 62 percent of people have responded to the census by phone, online or in person. In the Pittsburgh area, the response rate hovers around 59 percent.

Casa San Jose Executive Director Monica Ruiz says undercounting Latino communities in Pittsburgh and across the country sets up those communities to be underserved. 

“The schools will be underfunded, and then that affects the quality of education not only of these children but of everybody else’s children as well,” she says. “In reality, what it does, is it discriminates against and disenfranchises communities as well.”

Biden campaign’s “unity document” offers a blueprint for climate change
(5:50 — 13:09)

Trying to gain the support of progressives and centrists in the upcoming presidential election, presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden released  a “unity document.”

Nine Democrats, including Congressman Conor Lamb worked on the climate change portion of this document. Despite criticisms from the Republican party, it contains no mention of a ban on fracking or the natural gas industry. But not all Democrats agree with the plan, saysDaniel Moore, a reporter with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

“The core disagreement, as I’ve seen it, is the question of whether we phase out fossil fuels entirely, and if so, kind of how quickly we do that and what it means economically for regions like Pittsburgh, which have traditionally relied on fossil fuels like coal and natural gas,” Moore says. 

Biden is taking lessons from the 2016 campaign, Moore tells The Confluence. He’s taking into consideration the number of jobs the energy industry supports, listening to other Democrats like Congressman Lamb and Congressman Mike Doyle and campaigning heavily in Western Pennsylvania. 

How might climate change policy impact the presidential elections?
(13:13 — 17:47)

This month, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping green energy plan. It marks a strong contrast from President Donald Trump, who has long championed fossil fuels.

90.5 WESA’sLucy Perkins asked four western Pennsylvania voters about the issues that could sway their decision at the ballot box this fall. For this month’s installment of ourSplit Ticket series, they talked about energy and the environment.


The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.


Kevin Gavin is the host of WESA's news interview program "The Confluence." He is a native Pittsburgher and served as news director for 90.5 WDUQ for 34 years. Since the sale of the radio station by Duquesne University to Pittsburgh EPM, Inc. (now Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp.), he served as Executive Producer of Special News Projects prior to being named as host of "The Confluence" five years ago. kgavin@wesa.fm
Marylee is the editor/producer of The Confluence, the daily public affairs show on WESA. She got her start in journalism at The Daily Reveille and KLSU while attending Louisiana State University. She took her passion for audio journalism to UC Berkeley's graduate program and worked in public radio at WPR in Madison, WI, and WOSU in Columbus, Ohio.
Julia Zenkevich is a general assignment reporter for 90.5 WESA. She first joined the station as a production assistant on The Confluence, and more recently served as a fill-in producer for The Confluence and Morning Edition. She’s a life-long Pittsburgher, and attended the University of Pittsburgh. She can be reached at jzenkevich@wesa.fm.
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