Nancy Pelosi helps launch new census campaign in San Francisco

How much federal money a city might get to update schools, expand public hospitals, or for transportation projects, is all tied to the census. So are the number of Congressional representatives a state gets.

With so much riding on the census, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi came to San Francisco City Hall Friday to help launch a new campaign to get residents to participate in the 2020 census. It's called "San Francisco Counts."

"This is about meeting the needs of the American people," Pelosi said.

But gaining an accurate count could be difficult this year, especially among immigrants living in fear of White House policies and threats of deportation.

"They want to scare people into not being counted. Don't give them a victory. Give yourself a victory and be counted," Pelosi said.

Outreach workers in San Francisco will be trying to allay fears by explaining that the federal government will not know a person's immigration status.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration from asking about citizenship on the census questionnaire.

"Families are more scared of legal status on the immigration side than this is going to bring more resources. That's the work we are doing," said Maria Jandres, an outreach worker.

In the mostly Latino Mission District, census workers will be going to businesses, restaurants, community centers and residential buildings to get people to fill out the census form online, by mail, or by phone.

"Nothing is going to happen to you if you trust. That's the way I will reach out to them," said Jandres.

"If you are here you should be counted. And don't think if you may not be documented that you are any less important in this country," Pelosi said. 

The census gathering runs from March to July.