Based on the count of people living in the United States in 2010, about $400 billion in federal funds will be distributed to communities. Public services, ranging from police protection to medical care, will receive federal support based on population estimates. And representation in federal congressional districts, as well as local government bodies will be determined.
For a variety of reasons, including fear of the government and the desire to make “political statements,” some people will not participate in this U.S. Constitution-mandated national population count.
Some of the very people who may be tempted to avoid the Census are the ones who will lose the most from not being counted, noted Reyna Olaguez, U.S. Census spokeswoman for Kern and Tulare counties.
These are the people who may be most in need of public services, or whose voices should be heard and heeded by elected government officials.
Latinos and Asian immigrants are among those most likely to avoid being counted.
Olaguez explained some fear information collected on Census questionnaires will be shared with other government agencies. But federal law prevents this from happening. Answers and other information about respondents are confidential.
The Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders has launched a boycott of the U.S. Census in an attempt to force Congress to reform immigration policies.
“We urge members of Congress to pass a fair, decent and humane comprehensive immigration reform bill. Though such efforts have been stalled, we must continue to preach and insist: legalization before enumeration,” the Rev. Miguel Rivera, the coalition’s president, said in a January press release.
This has sparked a reaction from other Latino leaders. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as representatives of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund held a press opposing the boycott and urging people to participate in the Census.
They called having an accurate count of everyone living in the United States – regardless of their immigration status, or ethnic background – a “civil rights issue.”
“A full count of immigrants will ensure that their communities get the resources they need to address the economic and educational needs of the residents,” said Rosalind Gold, senior director of policy research and advocacy for the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
Census questionnaires will be mailed out in March and are to be mailed back by April 1, Olaguez said. Between April and July, Census workers will go door-to-door to households that did not return questionnaires and to seek responses.
This year’s Census questionnaire contains only 10 questions. It is much shorter than the forms used by the Census in 2000. That year, some households received a lengthy American Community Survey, which included lifestyle questions.
Hiring of part-time enumerators for the door-to-door phase of the Census will get into high gear in February, said Olaguez. Enumerators will work flexible and part-time hours from April until July, earning about $11 to $19 an hour.
Go onto the Internet at http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/ or call 866-861-2010 for hiring information.
This article written by Dianne Hardisty appeared first in Mas Magazine on Feb. 7, 2010.