My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

House of Representatives Passes “Census Awareness Month” Bill

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

UPDATE: This resolution passed with overwhelming bipartisan support (I swear, I’m not making this up, and I am quite happy at this moment!) – a rarity these days. Ron Paul was the only Nay (No) vote, and Rob Bishop of Utah, still bitter about Utah falling just short of obtaining an extra Congressional seat in 2000 and the Census Bureau’s refusal to count missionaries who are abroad for extended periods of time, voted present. The remaining 409 Members of the House of Representatives who were in attendance today all voted Aye (Yes) to support the resolution. The final amended resolution can be found here: HR1046

Well, we’re already 10% finished with this month, but March 2010 is now Census Awareness Month according to the United States House of Representatives. The resolution, which had 62 sponsors, passed this afternoon. Here’s the text of the resolution – which has since been amended to clear up statistical debates and other issues that didn’t please both parties (new final version coming soon):

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. RES. 1096

Encouraging individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010, and expressing support for designation of March 2010 as Census Awareness Month.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 23, 2010

Mr. REYES (for himself, Mr. ORTIZ, Mr. GRIJALVA, Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas, Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. GONZALEZ, Mr. HASTINGS of Florida, Mr. AL GREEN of Texas, Mrs. NAPOLITANO, Mr. BACA, Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas, Mr. GUTIERREZ, Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California, Mr. SIRES, Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN, Mr. BUTTERFIELD, Mr. CLEAVER, Ms. CLARKE, Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas, Mr. CLAY, Mr. HINOJOSA, Ms. BORDALLO, Mr. SALAZAR, Mr. CUELLAR, Mrs. CHRISTENSEN, Ms. FUDGE, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Ms. RICHARDSON, Ms. BERKLEY, Mr. HINCHEY, Mr. CHAFFETZ, Ms. WATSON, Mrs. MALONEY, Mr. THOMPSON of California, Mr. HONDA, Mr. MEEKS of New York, Mr. MORAN of Virginia, Ms. NORTON, Ms. MCCOLLUM, Mr. MCHENRY, Ms. MATSUI, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. BISHOP of Georgia, Ms. CHU, Mr. MEEK of Florida, Mrs. DAVIS of California, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. LINCOLN DIAZ-BALART of Florida, Mrs. LOWEY, Mr. RODRIGUEZ, Mr. PALLONE, Mr. CAO, and Ms. WOOLSEY) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform


RESOLUTION

Encouraging individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010, and expressing support for designation of March 2010 as Census Awareness Month.

Whereas the Constitution requires an actual enumeration of the population every 10 years;

Whereas an accurate census count is vital to the well-being of communities in the United States by helping planners determine where to locate schools, daycare centers, roads and public transportation, hospitals, housing, and other essential facilities;

Whereas businesses in the United States use census data to support new investments and growth;

Whereas census data ensure fair Federal, State, and local representation in the United States and help determine the composition of voting districts at each level;

Whereas census data directly affect how more than $400,000,000,000 in Federal and State funding is allocated to communities for neighborhood improvements, public health, education, transportation, etc.;

Whereas census data help identify changes in a community and are crucial for the distribution of adequate services to a growing population;

Whereas the 2000 Census determined the United States had a total population of 281,421,906 and current estimates project the population has grown to 308,573,696;

Whereas the 2010 Census is fast, safe, and easy to complete, with just 10 questions, and requiring only about 10 minutes;

Whereas the 2010 Census data are strictly confidential and Federal law prevents the information from being shared with any entity;

Whereas the data obtained from the census are protected under United States privacy laws, cannot be disclosed for 72 years, or used against any person by any Government agency or court;

Whereas neighborhoods with large populations of low-income and minority residents are especially at risk of being undercounted in the 2010 Census;

Whereas, in the 2000 Census count, Hispanics, African-Americans, and Asian Americans were most likely to be undercounted;

Whereas it is estimated that over 16,000,000 people were not counted in the 2000 Census resulting in a decreased share of Federal funding for those undercounted communities; and

Whereas the month of March 2010 would be an appropriate month to designate as Census Awareness Month: Now, therefore, be it

    Resolved, That the House of Representatives–
    • (1) encourages individuals across the United States to participate in the 2010 Census to ensure an accurate and complete count beginning April 1, 2010;
    • (2) urges State, local, county, and tribal governments, as well as other organizations to emphasize the importance of the 2010 Census and actively encourages all individuals to participate; and
    • (3) supports the designation of Census Awareness Month.

With no category of their own, Caribbeans need many boxes to ID race, ethnicity on US Census

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

The following story comes to us from the LA Times/Associated Press and echoes sentiments that have been expressed on this site for nearly a year. It is completely unfair to the people of Caribbean nations that they have no box to tick off. This lack of options will surely create a mess in identifying the actual origins and backgrounds of some two million Americans:

Jean-Robert Lafortune

Jean-Robert Lafortune, chairman of the Haitian American Grassroots Coalition for Miami, poses for photos Friday,, Feb. 19, 2010 in Miami. He feels there should be more selections for Haitian Americans to identify themselves on the census forms other than Afro-American or Negro. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) (J Pat Carter, AP / February 19, 2010)

JENNIFER KAY Associated Press Writer
MIAMI (AP) — Identify yourself as being of “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin” on the 2010 U.S. Census questionnaire, and you will get to be more specific about your ancestry, such as Mexican-American, Cuban or Puerto Rican.

But check the box for “black, African-American or Negro” and there will be no place to show whether you trace your identity to the African continent, a Caribbean island or a pre-Civil War plantation.

Some Caribbean-American leaders are urging their communities to write their nationalities on the line under “some other race” on the forms arriving in mailboxes next month, along with checking the racial categories they feel identify them best.

It’s another step in the evolution of the Census, which has moved well beyond general categories like “black” and “white” to allow people to identify themselves as multi-racial, and, in some cases, by national origin.

The wording of the questions for race and ethnicity changes with almost every Census, making room for the people who say, “I don’t see how I fit in exactly,” Census Bureau director Robert Groves told reporters in December. “This will always keep changing in this country as it becomes more and more diverse.”

In another push tied to the 2010 Census, advocates are urging indigenous immigrants from Mexico and Central America to write in groups such as Maya, Nahua or Mixtec so the Census Bureau can tally them for the first time.

The campaign in the multiethnic Caribbean community reflects a tendency, born from multiple waves of migration, to establish identity first by country, then by race.

“We are completely undercounted because there isn’t an accurate way of self-identifying for people from the Caribbean,” said Felicia Persaud, chairwoman of CaribID 2010, a New York-based campaign to get a category on the census form for Caribbean-Americans or West Indians.

About 2.4 percent of the U.S. population — more than 6.8 million people — identified on the 2000 Census as belonging to two or more races. A little less than 1 percent of the population — more than 1.8 million people — wrote in their West Indian ancestry.

And about 874,000 people — or 0.3 percent of the population — ticked boxes for Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders that year. If those islanders could get their own categories on the form, Caribbean-American leaders say, why not their communities?

Their lobbying efforts led to a bill in Congress requiring a box to indicate Caribbean descent on the census form, but it did not pass.

Census News Round-Up: Call Center Hiring, Census Forms Being Distributed, Groves Testifies In Washington About 2010 Census Jobs, New York Undercount?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

1. From the Atanta Journal-Constitution: Ryla is hiring 1,400 people in Georgia to work at call centers from April-August, presumably for the Census Bureau’s non-response follow-up operations.

2. From the Terry Haute, Indiana Tribune Star: 2010 Census materials are already being distributed in hard-to-count areas of Indiana.

3. From Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post:

A majority of the roughly 1.2 million temporary jobs created by the U.S. Census Bureau this year will be created in the late spring, agency Director Robert Groves said Tuesday.

Groves told a Senate subcommittee that 600,000 to 700,000 census takers will be hired from May through early July to visit individual households that fail to return census forms. Some workers currently employed in temporary positions are expected to reapply for new positions and get hired, he said.

“We over-recruited, clearly underestimating the labor market,” Groves said, acknowledging that the nation’s employment situation provided the Census Bureau with a wealth of eager applicants who, according to an agency statement, showed up for training at a much higher rate than they did during the 2000 Census.

4. The venerable New York Times reports that, “The city and the Census Bureau hope to avoid a repeat of the 1990 census, when the city challenged the count and the bureau acknowledged that it missed more than 240,000 New Yorkers.”

Seattle fortune cookies hold census message

Sunday, February 21st, 2010

From the Seattle Times:

The U.S. Census has launched a unique way of urging people to be counted: Tsue Chong Co. of Seattle is inserting five different messages urging census participation into 2 million fortune cookies being shipped to restaurants and groceries across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

By Lornet Turnbull

Seattle Times staff reporter

The Census Bureau is partnering with Tsue Chong Co. to create fortune cookies with a message about the upcoming count.

Enlarge this photoDEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

The Census Bureau is partnering with Tsue Chong Co. to create fortune cookies with a message about the upcoming count.

Sporting caps promoting the U.S. census, visitors to Thursday's fortune-cookie rollout watch the cookies being made, then have a taste. Tsue Chong Co. is inserting five different census messages into 2 million cookies

Enlarge this photoDEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES

Sporting caps promoting the U.S. census, visitors to Thursday’s fortune-cookie rollout watch the cookies being made, then have a taste. Tsue Chong Co. is inserting five different census messages into 2 million cookies

Next time you crack open a fortune cookie, check the flip side. The federal government may have a message for you.

Tsue Chong Co., a fortune-cookie factory in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, is inserting five different census messages into 2 million cookies being shipped to restaurants and groceries across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.

Like the usual predictions of wealth, fame and long life you’ll find on one side, the census missives on the opposite side are a bit … well … banal.

“Put down your chopsticks and get involved in Census 2010,” reads one message. “Real Fortune is being heard,” reads another.

It’s all part of a broader effort by the Census Bureau to spread the word about the upcoming population count on April 1. The nation’s 112 million households will begin receiving forms in the mail beginning in late March.

The decennial count helps allocate more than $400 billion a year in federal funds to state and local governments for programs such as public housing, highways and schools.

Census results help determine political boundaries as well as the number of representatives each state will send to Congress. Because Washington’s population has steadily grown, the state could pick up a 10th congressional seat after this year’s count.

There’s great financial motivation: Each uncounted person means a loss of about $1,400 in federal money per year, according to the Census Bureau.

Bessie Fan, co-owner of the family-run cookie and noodle factory, Tsue Chong, called it a “great thrill to partner with the census for such an important effort.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Now Is The Time To Print The 2010 Census Form In Creole

Monday, February 15th, 2010

Back on July 30, 2009, we published an article titled “Trouble in Florida for Haitians” detailing the problem of the Census Bureau’s choice not to use Creole as one of the 27 languages other than English that will appear on 2010 Census forms. In the wake of last month’s earthquake, and with an influx of refugees pouring into the United States (and Florida in particular), this decision now appears less intelligent than ever. MyTwoCensus.com is also surprised that the mainstream media has failed to pick up on this, and we urge media outlets to report this story. Are there a million Creole speakers in America? 1.5 million? More? This is an example of yet another community getting the shaft based on poor planning…but the Census Bureau still has time to act and create a creole language 2010 Census form as well as an ad campaign targeting creole-speakers. To the Census Bureau officials reading this: Please take our advice, and start this process ASAP!

Metro West Daily News: Comic book pitches census to Brazilians

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
Census comic staring Brazilian characters Ze Brazil and Tiao Mineiro
By Julia Spitz/Daily News staff
Posted Feb 10, 2010 @ 12:45 AM

Census officials hope a little humor will lead to an accurate headcount.

“2010 Census: The Adventures of Ze Brasil & Tiao Mineiro,” a comic book in Portuguese, is part of a Boston Regional Census Center initiative to let Brazilian immigrants know about the importance of the national census conducted every 10 years.

Local Portuguese-language newspapers and magazines will distribute comic books in Framingham and Marlborough next week, then again next month. Churches with predominantly Brazilian congregations will also distribute the 16-page publication.

“We are trying to reach everyone,” said Alexandra Barker, U.S. Census media specialist.

Ze Brasil and Tiao Mineiro are familiar figures to readers of Bay State Brazilian newspapers. Boston-based cartoonist Daniel Nocera launched the series featuring the two illegal immigrants living in Massachusetts in 2005.

The comic strip, which is carried in The Metropolitan Brazilian News and A Noticia weekly papers in New England, as well as The Brazilian News in London and The Brasil News in Toronto, puts a humorous spin on struggles the pair face due to their inability to speak English and lack of documentation.

Using situations such as not knowing when to get off a T train or dealing with an unscrupulous landlord, Nocera said he tries to depict reality but also make readers laugh and think.

“I believe many Brazilians will identify themselves with my characters,” he said.

The census-themed booklet is an extension of the comic strips that “use a mild sense of humor and creativity as tools for getting the messages out.

“There are three short stories and three games, all involving the main census messages: It’s easy, it’s important and it’s confidential,” said Nocera, who was named best Brazilian cartoonist living outside Brazil in 2008 and 2009. In the booklet, Ze Brasil and Tiao Mineiro are visited by a census worker, and talk about things that can be improved, such as schools and hospitals, based on an accurate census count.

“This comic book is an important tool for our outreach efforts to this hard-to-count population, which is the largest foreign-born community in the Boston region,” said Barker.

“We want to be culturally sensitive, not too bureaucratic,” she said.

Global Politics At Work: UC Irvine Students Want To Be Counted As Taiwanese

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

A couple of UC Irvine students aren’t too pleased that there’s no place for them to identify their Taiwanese heritage on the 2010 Census form, so they wrote a song about it. This is a particularly sensitive issue given the long-standing geopolitical feud between mainland China and Taiwan…The girls in the video ultimately decide to choose “Asian” and “Other” and write in “Taiwanese” on their 2010 Census forms so they will be properly counted.

USA Today: Glitches Hamper 2010 Count

Friday, February 5th, 2010

We’re really wondering who at the Census Bureau is responsible for the below problems…because he or she should be fired immediately…MyTwoCensus.com will soon be investigating who was responsible for this language foible….see the following report from USA Today:

By Haya El Nasser

The words dieu tra jumped out at Quyen Vuong as she perused the 2010 Vietnamese-language Census form online.

“It’s a very scary connotation in the sense that there is a crime and the government needs to investigate,” says Vuong, a member of two Census outreach committees in California‘s Santa Clara County and executive director of the International Children Assistance Network.

The words the Census Bureau used to refer to its upcoming population count evoke chilling memories for Vietnamese immigrants who escaped a Communist regime. Vuong alerted the Census Bureau, and Director Robert Groves told her that online Census materials were being changed and would use the more neutral thong ke (tally) to refer to the count. It’s too late, however, to edit preprinted forms.

Vuong says the government should launch a media campaign to acknowledge the mistake and apologize.

Despite an unprecedented $340 million promotion that includes $130 million for ads in 28 languages (including Tagalog, Yiddish, Khmer, and Urdu), user guides in 59 languages and the Census questionnaire itself in six — English, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese — glitches and gripes surround the Census effort:

• The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund last week reported widespread problems in Asian communities, from mistranslations to insufficient staffing in local Census offices.

“We don’t want to be too critical, but no one had a chance to preview the language guides, the advertising campaign,” says Glenn Magpantay, director of the Democracy Program at AALDEF. Concerns over privacy and confidentiality continue, he says.

• The National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents about 200 black community newspapers, is angry that the Census Bureau is spending only $2.5 million on ads in black media.

“We think they’re about $10 million short,” says Danny Bakewell, chairman of the group. “They’re setting it up for us to have the greatest undercount in the history of America. If this happens, it will devastate our community for the next 10 years at least.”

The number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives is based on Census counts every 10 years. The tally also helps to redraw political districts and determine the allocation of more than $400 billion a year in federal money to states and cities.

• Korean-American groups want to see more Census spending in their community. “We heard that there was so much money out there for Census outreach, but I don’t see a dollar,” says Young Sun Song, a community organizer for the Korean American Resource & Cultural Center in Chicago.

• In Texas, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund complains that the state has not formed a complete-count committee to encourage response to the 2010 Census forms that will land in mailboxes next month.

Census News Roundup…

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

The story: FoxNews has claimed that Democrats in Ohio are may rig the 2010 Census.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: We urge readers to proceed with caution, as this article is filled with the kind of “Gotcha!” fluff that has made FoxNews so famous. However, FoxNews continues to serve an important role in keeping Democratic administrations on their toes…so we’ll watch this one for a bit.

The Story: Hatian immigrants moving permanently to Florida en masse could positively affect the Sunshine State’s headcount.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: Yup. This is likely. But how many grieving newly arrived Hatians make time for the 2010 Census as their first priority when upon landing in the US?

The Story:  Apparently, the Census Bureau is having trouble finding workers in West Texas.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: Even if West Texas has a low unemployment rate unlike the rest of the nation, there are still many unemployed and competent people out there. The Census Bureau recruiters in this area should be fired because clearly they are incapable of doing their jobs.

The Story: A 2010 Census meeting in Monroe, Louisiana draws sparse attendance.

MyTwoCensus Commentary: The Census Bureau did a great job getting the MEDIA and POLITICIANS to attend an event, but not the PEOPLE. Clearly there is a disconnect here. Will this be indicative of a low number of people returning their Census forms?

Indigenous immigrants to be counted for first time

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Indigenous immigrants — Native Americans from Central America and Mexico — will be counted for the first time on the 2010 Census.

ABC News has the full story from the Associated Press, which reports that these immigrants often need to check multiple boxes to describe their background. Language barriers and a lack of trust in the government are also obstacles:

The Census Bureau wants to change that in the 2010 count as it tallies immigrant indigenous groups for the first time ever, hoping to get a more complete snapshot of a growing segment of the immigrant population.

In the 2010 Census, the bureau will tabulate handwritten entries specifying that the respondent belongs to a Central American indigenous group such Maya, Nahua, Mixtec, or Purepecha. The list of different populations that end up being counted will be made public when results are released in 2011, said Michele Lowe, spokeswoman for the Census Bureau.

“We’re always striving to present an accurate portrait of the American people, and this is part of that effort,” said Lowe.

An accurate count is important to the indigenous groups themselves, and to the federal government, which allocates resources to state and local government according to the results.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates indigenous migrants make up about 17 percent of the country’s farm workers, and may represent up to 30 percent of California’s farm worker population. Florida also has a large indigenous immigrant population.

Counting on census controversy

Monday, January 4th, 2010

From a proposal to ask about citizenship on 2010 Census to a collaboration between Latino groups and evangelical churches to promote the census, we’ve seen a fair amount of controversy, well before census forms are distributed in March.

Audrey Singer, a senior fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution examines some of the controversies surrounding the upcoming census in an op-ed for CNN.com.

Much of the debate will center on meaning of “home,” she writes:

This coming census — the largest count of the U.S. population with more immigrants and minorities than ever — will be complicated further by the economic downturn and foreclosure crisis because many people are “doubling up” or otherwise living in temporary quarters.

The census questionnaire asks for a count of all people who live and sleep in the household “most of the time,” as of April 1, but not those who are living away at college or in the military or those who are living in a nursing home or who are in a jail, prison or detention facility. (They are counted separately from households.)

“Home” may have changed recently for those whose hardship leaves them little choice but to live with relatives or friends, however temporary that may be. “Home” for displaced residents of the Gulf Coast may be miles away from where they lived before the devastation that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita wrought in their communities.

“Home” for some immigrants is in U.S. communities even though they are not legally residing in the United States. And “home” may be in a prison or detention center in a state far away from the inmate’s hometown residence.

In the comments, let us know what you see as the most controversial parts of the 2010 Census.

Iranian Americans urged to specify ethnicity in Census

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

We’ve written about the extensive (but controversial) outreach to encourage Latinos to participate in the 2010 Census — and now, Iranian Americans are also the target of outreach efforts.

According to the Los Angeles Times, this year’s outreach campaign is the first time Iranian Americans have been encouraged to specifically identify themselves as Iranians on their Census forms.

The protests that followed the reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  are expected to help. Since the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, the LAT reports, Iranian Americans have been reluctant to identify themselves. But that’s changed since this summer:

“It has created a sea change in the way Americans view Iranians,” said Reza Aslan, author of “How to Win a Cosmic War,” who moved to the U.S. from Iran in 1979. “No doubt about it, it’s now cool to be Iranian.”

Some hailed it as a sort of coming out for Iranian Americans. The hope is that the effects of that change will be seen in the census count next year.

“It was a sort of boost or a shot in the arm,” [Census Bureau partnership specialist Nadia] Babayi said, because people were encouraged to say that they were Iranian. They weren’t hiding anymore.”

After the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, many Iranian Americans and expatriates chose to keep a low profile in what some saw as a hostile environment. The 1991 film “Not Without My Daughter” was blamed for helping to cast a negative light on Iranian men. Starring Sally Field, it depicted an American woman and her daughter fleeing Iran and an abusive husband. And in 2002, then-President Bush declared Iran a member of the “Axis of Evil.”

About 300,000 Iranians were counted in the 2000 Census, a figure thought to be highly underreported. The U.S. government classifies Iranians as “white” and some didn’t know they could specify in the “other” category that they were Iranian.

A closer look at Census push by Latino groups, evangelical churches

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

As Stephen wrote last week, Latino leaders are in a controversial collaboration with evangelical churches to encourage participation in the 2010 Census.

As part of that effort, the National Association of Latino Elected Officials is distributing Christmas posters to churches and clergy that depict Joseph and Mary on their way to Bethlehem, with a note that that Jesus was born when Joseph and Mary were traveling to participate in a census.

In the New York Times’ second article on the Census in the past week (the first was on the economy), the paper gives the Census push by Latino leaders — and their work with  clergy — a closer look.

The article reports Latino groups are worried about their members being under counted because illegal immigrants may be unlikely to fill out a government form. It also describes why the Census is a milestone of sorts for many Latino leaders:

Latino political leaders see full participation in the census as the culmination of heightened activism that began in the spring of 2006, when hundreds of thousands of Latinos marched in the streets to protest legislation then in Congress that would have toughened laws against illegal immigration. In 2007 they held a nationwide campaign to have Latino immigrants become United States citizens. That was followed last year with a huge voter registration drive.

“We want to tap into that same spirit,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, known as Naleo, a bipartisan group that is a main organizer of the census drive. “We have to go back to everybody and say, ‘Just as you marched, just as you naturalized, just as you voted, now you have to be counted.’ ”

One strategy is to encourage Latino immigrants to return the census forms by mail, rather than waiting for a census taker’s knock on the door, which could frighten illegal immigrants wary of immigration agents.

After the Senate blocked an attempt to include a citizenship question on the Census form last month, it became clear that states with significant Latino populations have a lot to gain by full (or as close to full as possible) participation. And that will translate to more funds and congressional representation for the people in those states.

However, some evangelical leaders are arguing against the campaign, objecting to the use of images of Jesus to promote the Census — and even against Latino participation in the Census at all:

But the Rev. Miguel Angel Rivera, a New Jersey pastor who heads a smaller coalition of evangelical clergy, has called for a boycott of the census.

“We need to empower the undocumented immigrants by asking them not to participate,” Mr. Rivera said, “as a way to protest the lack of commitment from this Congress to do what is right and moral, which is comprehensive immigration reform.”

He is touring the country with his boycott call, and he has gained the support of some community leaders, including Nativo López, a Mexican-American activist in Los Angeles.

Any promotional effort that mixes the government and religion is bound to get a little dicey. As the posters are displayed in evangelical churches this week, we’re interested to see what kind of reception they get — and, more importantly, whether they’ll translate into Latino Census participation.

Group’s 2010 Census promo called ‘blasphemous’

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

From USA Today:

A push to spread the gospel about the 2010 Census this Christmas is stoking controversy with a campaign that links the government count to events surrounding the birth of Jesus.

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The National Association of Latino Elected Officials is leading the distribution to churches and clergy of thousands of posters that depict the arrival of Joseph and a pregnant Mary in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. As chronicled in the Gospel of Luke, Joseph returned to be counted in a Roman census, but he and Mary found no room at an inn, and Jesus was born in a manger.

“This is how Jesus was born,” the poster states. “Joseph and Mary participated in the Census.”

Most of the posters are in Spanish and target Latino evangelicals, says Jose Cruz, senior director of civic engagement at the Latino association, which launched its Ya Es Hora (It’s Time) campaign in 2006 to promote voter registration among Latinos.

It is promoting the Census, used to help allocate $400 billion a year in federal dollars, redraw state and local political districts and determine the number of seats each state gets in Congress.

Philly’s Growing For The First Time In 60 Years!!

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Watch out world, Philly’s on the rise…this after Boston’s challenge of Census Bureau estimates was recently approved…From Philly.com:

Good news, Philadelphia!

After decades of population loss, the city has stopped shrinking, according to revised Census Bureau estimates delivered to the city earlier this week.

On Monday, the city received a letter from the Census Bureau raising the 2008 population estimate by about 93,000.

In October, Philly challenged the bureau’s 2008 estimate of the city’s population, which the bureau had set at 1,447,395. It was the first time that the city had challenged the bureau’s estimates since a challenge program began earlier this decade.

The new estimate of Philadelphia’s ’08 population is 1,540,351 people, 4,220 higher than what even the city had believed. The difference came from the bureau’s having more accurate counts of those living in prisons, nursing homes and college dorms, said Gary Jastrzab, the city’s deputy director of city planning.

The city’s population peaked at more than two million people in 1950, then began a 50-year decline.

“For the first time in nearly 60 years, we can demonstrate that Philadelphia’s population is growing, not declining,” Mayor Nutter said.

He said that the new estimates highlighted the importance of the 2010 Census, which will have legislative and fiscal ramifications for the city.

“City, state, and federal [representation] are all affected by the census figures because of required redistricting,” he said.

The city would get more funding from the federal government if it could prove it was growing, Nutter said.

Event tonight in Los Angeles…

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Here’s the LINK to the event…

Is the Census Controversial?

Moderated by Steve Padilla, Assistant National Editor, Los Angeles Times

The California Endowment
1000 N. Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA

The Census Bureau is fundamental to American democracy — its ten-year counts determine representation in Congress and in the Electoral College, and influence federal and state funding for health, education, transportation, and more. Businesses rely on the Census to predict demand and choose locations; governments use it to make housing decisions, study communities, map roadways, create police and fire precincts, and plan local elections. But because of this vast impact, the Census also confronts controversy each time it sets out to count. Americans of all political leanings have strong preferences for whom and what they want counted, and obstacles often prevent the Census from making full counts, particularly of minority groups. Some, recalling the Census’ history of providing information on various groups for national security reasons, regard the count with skepticism and mistrust. With the 2010 Census looming, Zócalo invites a panel of experts — including UCI’s Jennifer Lee, UCLA’s Paul Ong, Jorge-Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights Los Angeles and Arturo Vargas of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials — to consider how the Census works, how it might improve, and why it is relentlessly controversial.

Cash Cuts May Cost California Billions

Friday, November 20th, 2009

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

By Marissa Lagos

(11-16) 04:00 PST Sacramento

California has slashed the amount of money it will spend on the 2010 census, a move that experts warn could lead to a flawed count and cost the state billions in federal aid over the next decade.

Additionally, the U.S. Census Bureau – which recognized early that states wouldn’t have as much cash on hand – is redoubling its efforts. For example, in 2000, 18 census outreach workers were dedicated to the Bay Area; this year, the bureau assigned 160.

The U.S. government hands out about $400 billion to states and local jurisdictions every year based on population counts made during the nation’s decennial census. The money pays for local hospitals, schools, public housing, highways and unemployment insurance.

While the federal government pays census workers to take counts, states and local governments spend money on census outreach efforts to stress to residents – particularly those who may be wary – the importance of the census.

But because of deep budget cuts in the 2009-10 California spending plan, the state has earmarked less than $2 million for 2010 census outreach, down from nearly $25 million a decade ago. The cut in state census outreach funds is a problem that federal officials said is playing out across the country.

In California, the cut means many counties, which 10 years ago received grants from the state for outreach in addition to using their own money, will get little or no state funding for 2010 census outreach. Some counties struggling with their own fiscal problems also have cut local funding for census outreach.

Undercounts costly

Sonny Le, a spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau, said outreach is critical to ensure residents fill out the census forms that will be delivered to every home in the United States in March. Many people don’t understand the reason for filling out the form, while others are reticent to share information with the federal government.

Each uncounted resident could result in the loss of $1,000 a year in federal funding for a state, according to the nonprofit Grantmakers Concerned With Immigrants and Refugees.

Ted Wang, a census consultant working for the group, said state and local outreach efforts play a critical role in communicating with populations that historically have been difficult to count.

An undercount also could cost California a congressional seat for the first time in its 150-year history, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said.

In 2000, 70 percent of the U.S. census forms that were sent out in California were returned – though only 58 percent were expected, said Eric Alborg, a spokesman for the California Complete Count Committee, a group formed by the governor in June to oversee the state’s census outreach.

Even with a higher-than-anticipated rate of response, Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylmar (Los Angeles County), estimated that California lost $2 billion to $3 billion in federal funding over the past decade because some people were not counted.

“If this year is a bad count, how many more billions could we lose?” Fuentes said.

The governor’s office defended the cuts as necessary and pointed out that in 2000 – at the height of the dot-com boom – the state was flush with cash.

‘Hard to count’ groups

“Given the breadth of the recession and the toll on state revenues, we had to make cutbacks in virtually every area,” said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the Department of Finance, who added that state officials recognize the importance of the count. “We’re pleased we are able to commit resources for outreach efforts to reach individuals that are hard to count.”

California is home to 10 of the nation’s 50 counties with the largest “hard to count” populations, which include people of color, young adults, immigrants and low-income residents. Alameda and San Francisco counties are among the 10 counties, topped by Los Angeles County.

People harder to find

Further compounding the challenge is the economic and political climate, experts said. The financial crisis, including the waves of foreclosures, has forced people into homelessness or nontraditional housing, making them hard to find.

Officials said some immigrant populations are expected to be even more wary of the count than usual because of an uptick in immigration raids and anti-immigrant rhetoric in recent years – including an attempt by several Republican U.S. senators to exclude undocumented residents from the count and require respondents to disclose their immigration status. The amendment was defeated, but sponsor David Vitter, R-La., has vowed to raise the issue again.

To make up for the cut in state census funds, the state is working closely with elected, religious, nonprofit, community and educational leaders to develop plans to reach out to residents and get accurate counts via the California Complete Count Committee.

The state is also developing a Web site that will offer tool kits in census outreach to community partners.

Meanwhile, some local jurisdictions are trying to bridge the gap left by state cuts. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties ponied up money in their budgets to fund local efforts. For the first time, San Francisco created a “complete count committee,” which includes community, business, labor and nonprofit leaders to help with outreach.

Still, serious challenges lie ahead, says Adrienne Pon, who is leading San Francisco’s efforts.

“There are no (state) funds this time around, and populations are more dispersed and diverse … (so) we’re trying to be more street smart and direct outreach mobilization efforts,” she said. The largely African American Bayview-Hunters Point “had the lowest rate of return in 2000. We know of eight neighborhoods like that one which we are targeting.”

WSJ: Census Turns To Kids For Help

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Click HERE for full article from the Wall Street Journal

By Miriam Jordan:

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Census Bureau is recruiting a new set of volunteers: kids.

Seeking to ensure strong participation in the decennial population count, especially in so-called hard-to-count neighborhoods, the bureau has decided children are key.

That has led it to settings like Arlene Paynes’s first-grade class at Union Avenue Elementary School in this immigrant enclave on the edge of downtown. Last Thursday, the class gathered to read aloud a story titled “Who Counts?”

They learned about a boy named Joey who helps his grandmother, an Italian immigrant, fill out the Census form that arrives in the mail. The grandmother and grandchild decide that those who “count” in their household are Grandma, Mom, Dad, Joey, little sister Mary — and even Mr. Macintosh, who occupies a spare room “until he finds a job.” The only one who doesn’t count: their cat Clover.

It is always a struggle to get everyone to participate, but the 2010 count is expected to present new challenges. The gloomy economy has forced many people to move or seek temporary residence with friends or family, making them harder to reach. And the U.S. is still absorbing the largest wave of immigrants since the beginning of the 20th century. Many aren’t native English speakers; more than 10 million are here illegally.

The bureau is rolling out initiatives here and in other hard-to-reach tracts. It is running an information campaign in Spanish-language media, sending representatives to operate booths at street fairs and distributing forms in more languages than ever.

Early next year, households nationwide will begin receiving a form with 10 questions. It’s shorter than in the past, according to Census officials, and should take only 10 minutes to complete.

“Making children part of the national conversation,” said Renee Jefferson-Copland, chief of the school program at the Census Bureau, might be one of the most effective tools for reaching many adults.

The Suitland Files: Inside The Census Bureau (Part 2)

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

I apologize for taking so long to post the second half of the series that I started nearly two weeks ago, but I’ve been traveling extensively and things were getting quite hectic. Without further ado, I present to you an inside look into my meeting with top communications/public relations/press officials at the Census Bureau’s HQ in Washington, DC:

After making idle chit-chat about Europe, climate change, and Dr. Groves’ travel habits (like any good reporter, I try to extract information wherever possible) for more than half an hour with two private security guards inside their security booth on the perimeter of the Census Bureau’s fenced off headquarters (they refused to let me sit on a bench outside even though it was a warm day…), I was greeted by Derick Moore (who Steve Jost authorizes to make the official Census Bureau comments on MyTwoCensus posts) and Eun Kim, a new Census Bureau PR official who until very recently was a DC reporter for Gannett (hmmm…I wonder why she jumped over to the dark side…).

After clearing a round of metal detectors, I made my way up the elevator with my two aforementioned handlers. I was led to a waiting room where I made some chit chat with Derick and Eun who each told me about their careers in private sector media. (I pray every day that the allure of a solid government salary with good benefits doesn’t one day catch up with me too…) Steve Jost, chowing down on a sandwich and french fries, returned and had us follow him into his office. We all sat down, with me at the head of the table. With white hair and a bit of scruff on his face, Jost wasn’t the devilish and egotistical Nazi I expected he might be, but rather a jovial guy who immediately poked fun at my comments about him on this site. I replied that I made those comments when I was thousands of miles away in the safety of my own home, and I had never expected to be sitting down with him in person. But I had no regrets. My job is to be a watchdog, and a vigilant watchdog I will be.

Last to arrive at our meeting was Stephen Buckner, the mouthpiece of the 2010 Census (spokesman) who had the boyish charm of a high school quarterback. I’m sure that fifteen years ago he easily cruised his way to a victory during elections for homecoming king.

Jost was the leader of this round-table, so between french fries he started firing off all of the positive accomplishments that he and his team have made, while clearly avoiding any of the shortcomings. Here’s a rundown of the most interesting things that he said:

1. High unemployment rates and homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure will cause problems with the 2010 Census.

2. The hardest group to count is “young, unattached people” who move frequently, only have cell phones, are between jobs or studies, etc. — NOT immigrants or minorities, as one might expect from all of the Census Bureau’s hard-to-count group advertising…(MyTwoCensus will investigate this further in the near future!)

3. The Census Bureau has created a series of ads using pop music…get ready to find these on your TV screens starting in early January.

4. The participation rate in the Census increased for the first time since 1970 in 2000, despite general trends that fewer and fewer people are involved in civic activities like voting, performing jury duty, etc. Hopefully they can once again reverse this trend in 2010.

5. 95% of media consumers will be reached multiple times by 2010 Census advertising campaigns.

6. 53% of 2010 Census advertising is local. 47% is national. (Note: MyTwoCensus has not heard back yet as to whether our proposal to let the Census Bureau advertise for the 2010 Census on this site was accepted…)

7. Spoiler Alert: Sesame Street will be featuring a 2010 Census storyline via The Count and Rosita characters.

8. 2010.Census.gov was redesigned.

9. Though 173 forms of social media have been integrated with Census Bureau awareness efforts, no I-Phone Application has been created for the 2010 Census.

10. The 2010 Census forms will be mailed to all households in America (hopefully) on March 17, 2010. (Let’s hope drunken St. Patty’s day revelers don’t interfere with the efforts of the U.S. Postal Service…)

11. When selecting advertisements for the 2010 Census, the Census Bureau asks the creative directors of 12 different advertising firms to submit proposals via a “creative rumble.”

12. Hopefully there won’t be a repeat of the 2000 Advance Letter Debacle in 2010…

13. There will be extra Census Bureau staff in New Orleans to personally hand deliver 2010 Census questionnaires to every household.

14. The address canvassing portion of the 2010 Census provided data that there are approximately 134 million individual housing units in the US, down from original estimates of 140 million.

15. Many addresses in places like Las Vegas where construction on homes was started but never finished have been deleted from the 2010 Census rolls.

16. Very, very, very few people hired to work for the Census Bureau as temporary workers have quit during the 2009-2010 cycle, as other jobs are extremely scarce.

17. On November 17 at 9:30am, Dr. Robert M. Groves will be holding his next monthly “State of the 2010 Census” address…

I was given some handouts (drawings of a 2010 Census logo on a NASCAR racecar that will be unveiled soon), portions of powerpoints (that showed me data about levels of Census participation), and had the opportunity to see one of the hip-hop music based commercials that was recently shot in LA and will soon be airing nationwide. It was a smooth operation, and my questions were answered well. Were the answers necessarily honest? No. But did the PR team effectively do their jobs to give give off the image of squeaky clean 2010 Census communications operations? Absolutely.

Prison Spotlight: The Diversity Myth

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Here’s an interesting angle about the 2010 Census from a Kansas City Star opinion piece:

How Places With Prisons Falsely Boost “Diversity”

By Marie Sanchez

The 2010 U.S. census will soon be upon us, and by now you may have heard one of the patriotic pitches to comply.

Every breathing soul must be tallied during the massive federal endeavor, the national headcount taken every decade. The census is central to the functioning of our democracy, we’re told.

The data are used to distribute $400 billion in government spending, to compile countless reports on educational needs, to plan for economic development and formulate public policy.

More important, census data have a direct bearing on congressional districts and the Electoral College. The information is crucial to help us uphold the constitutional principle of one person, one vote.

So why, then, is the federal government gearing up to distort this vital set of data by how it accounts for the nation’s booming prison population? Prisoners are counted, not according to their home address but where they are incarcerated.

At a glance, this might not seem like a big deal — until the details of our nation’s 2 million inmates are broken down. Rural communities with large prison populations suddenly appear to be bastions of diversity, while those without prisons continue to see their population numbers slide.

On average, inmates serve for 34 months before returning to their original communities. They never shop, dine, attend school or otherwise become members of the towns and cities where they are warehoused while paying their debt to society.

One distortion this way of counting population causes is what some activists call “prison-based gerrymandering.” Because population figures are used to determine legislative districts, voting power is diluted in some areas and falsely ramped up in others.

The NAACP, no doubt recalling how black people were once considered three-fifths of a person for the purpose of representation, was among the first organizations to call for reform. Because 12 percent of black men in their 20s and 30s are in prison at any one time, urban areas lose out on the strength of those uncounted inmates.

But it’s actually rural communities, where prisons are often built, that suffer the most from the distortions. Peter Wagner, a Massachusetts-based advocate for the Prison Policy Initiative, has found 173 counties where more than half of the black population is made up of inmates. Seven state senate districts in New York alone, he argues, would need to be redrawn if inmates were omitted from population figures for the areas where they are doing time.

Local officials in some parts of the country have responsibly attempted to eliminate the distortions. Bravo. The town of Anamosa, Iowa, changed the way it elects city council members after discovering that the population of a state penitentiary created a ward where a candidate got elected on the strength of two write-in votes. His inmate constituency of about 1,300 prisoners was roughly as populous as the town’s other wards.

With census-takers already completing the process of verifying addresses for the spring headcount, it’s too late for the government to change how it plans to conduct the 2010 census. Recording the true home address of inmates would be costly (an estimated $250 million), and many prisons don’t have the information readily available.

What the government can do to help rectify the situation is release the prison data earlier than planned, in time for states to take the information and delete those numbers for redistricting purposes.

Criminals forfeit a lot when they get locked up. They lose the right to vote, in all but two states.

They lose daily interaction with loved ones and the chance to engage in meaningful work. What they shouldn’t lose is the sense that their presence counts.

To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send e-mail to msanchez@kcstar.com.