Sunday, May 19, 2024

Commerce Secretary Speaks about Importance of Accurately Counting Hispanics in the 2010 Census

On Wednesday, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), Univision Inc., the League of United Latin American Citizens and SEIU announced a grassroots campaign in Washington entitled, “Hágase Contar!” an effort to help advertise the 2010 Census to  the Hispanic community, An estimated 1 million Hispanics were missed in the last census.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke addressed the crowd about the importance of accurately counting Hispanics in the 2010 Census. He assured that all personal information in census forms will be kept confidentia–a reason many Latinos who are undocumented do not participate. Locke also mentioned Obama would soon be nominating a new census director.

Locke said, “We all recognize what is at stake. More than $300 billion in federal funds is distributed every year based on Census numbers for vital services like disaster relief, health care, schools, transportation, and legal services; bringing the right numbers to your communities means bringing economic empowerment.”

Census officials have acknowledged that tens of millions residents in urban areas- about 14 percent of the U.S. population – are at high risk of being missed due to language problems and the economic crisis that has displaced many homeowners.  They are allocating $250 million of the $1 billion in stimulus money for outreach, including an additional $13 million for Hispanic advertising. The media and education campaign will not just be limited traditional Hispanic populated states such as California, Texas and Florida, but also to fast growing Hispanic areas in Georgia, the Carolinas and Arkansas.

“Make no mistake about it: The census cannot succeed if Latinos are not fully counted,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO, adding that Hispanics make up half of the nation’s percentage growth. “We are the future of the United States.”

In addition, groups encouraged the Obama administration to tackle immigration reform as a way to avoid risking an undercount of millions of Latino immigrants.

Ruben Keoseyan, publisher of La Raza newspaper, expressed concern about recent government raids and how that results in immigrant communities distrusting the government, “The federal government plays an important role in augmenting what we are doing.”

At a news conference, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said they are against suspending enforcement of immigration laws to help make sure Hispanics are accurately counted.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said, “The idea that we would have … border patrol, INS and ICE sit on the sidelines is not reasonable.”

“They’re looking for terrorists more than they are looking for immigrants.”

Rep. William Lacy Clay(D-MO) who chairs a House oversight subcommittee on the census, has proposed the government halt immigration raids as it did in 2000. This same request was made two years ago in an effort to improve the count but was rejected by the Bush administration.

Associated Press