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

No citizenship question on Census form

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

The 2010 Census will count all people living in the United States, including immigrants who are not citizens.

Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) proposed an amendement last month that would have required the Census Bureau to ask whether people were in the country illegally, and would have excluded illegal immigrants from the population counts.

Senate Democrats blocked the proposal this afternoon in a 60-39 vote. More from the AP:

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats Thursday blocked a GOP attempt to require next year’s census forms to ask people whether they are U.S. citizens.

The proposal by Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter was aimed at excluding immigrants from the population totals that are used to figure the number of congressional representatives for each state. Critics said Vitter’s plan would discourage immigrants from responding to the census and would be hugely expensive. They also said that it’s long been settled law that the apportionment of congressional seats is determined by the number of people living in each state, regardless of whether they are citizens. A separate survey already collects the data.

Census data is also used to distribute billions of dollars in federal aid.

“The current plan is to reapportion House seats using that overall number, citizens and noncitizens,” Vitter said. “I think that’s wrong. I think that’s contrary to the whole intent of the Constitution and the establishment of Congress as a democratic institution to represent citizens.”

If Vitter were successful — and if noncitizens were excluded from the census count for congressional apportionment — states with fewer immigrants would fare significantly better in the upcoming allocation of House seats.

State such as California and Texas would fare worse than they would under the current way of allocating seats, which under the Constitution is based on the “whole number of persons” residing in a state.

A quick note from the editor…

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

Personally, I believe that the debate in Congress about the 2010 Census being altered to require that only citizens are counted is nonsense. This movement only has traction from elected officials who feel their seats are threatened by immigrants. It will not go far. I am surprised that the media is giving it so much hype. There must not be anything else to discuss. Good job as usual mainstream media by blowing things out of proportion!

Census Director Groves Talks Language Assistance in SF

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

By Sonja Sharp for MyTwoCensus.com

What do you get when you toss together 57 languages, $300 million and a five pronged attack? Well, if you’re Robert M. Groves, Director of the US Census Bureau, you hope you get a slightly better count.

If there’s one clear message that everyone can take from Groves’ presentation at San Francisco City Hall today, its that the ethnic press is alive and well. Immigrant groups across the country have expressed unparalleled interest in the 2010 census, making today’s event particularly well attended. But questions about how well the census will actually be able to reach those immigrants still linger.

In case you don’t read Cantonese or Tagalog, here’s the breakdown:

The Census Bureau has totally ramped up its PR campaign for 2010. In total, it plans to spend $3oo million, nearly all of it in targeted, local advertising. The emphasis here is on language outreach, small ethnic newspapers and foreign language TV and radio.  During the first week of March, letters introducing the census  will go out to every home in America. Three hundred million of them, currently sitting in a storeroom somewhere in DC.

Those will direct non-English speakers to a call center where no fewer than 57 languages are spoken. Unfortunately, the census is only available in six: English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian and Vietnamese. Tagalog was removed after 2000.

But speakers of Urdu, Khmer and  Burmese are in luck! A quick glance at some yet-t0-be released “language assistance forms” (which basically translate the entire census into a third language) show a wealth of other, less widely spoken languages in the cache.

For many, language is less of a barrier than fear, and fear may be hard to staunch, since the Obama administration has made clear it won’t end immigration raids in April.

“As you might imagine, the ability of one federal agency to ask another federal agency to cease activities consistent with their mission is almost zero,” Groves said. ” There will be no formal request to the dhs for the halting of those raids.”

Senators try to exclude illegal immigrants from 2010 Census

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana is not a fan of the 2010 Census. MyTwoCensus does not support the proposed amendment that is discussed below. H/t to Haya El Nasser of USA Today for the following story:

A controversial amendment that would require the Census Bureau to ask for the first time whether people are in the USA illegally is headed for a Senate vote Wednesday.

Proposed last week by Republican Sens.David Vitter of Louisiana and Bob Bennett ofUtah, the amendment would exclude illegal immigrants from the population count used to allocate congressional seats after the 2010 Census. It also would require the Census to ask people whether they are citizens.

“Illegal aliens should not be included for the purposes of determining representation in Congress, and that’s the bottom line here,” Vitter says. If enacted, the amendment to an appropriations bill would stop funding of the 2010 Census unless the changes are made.

The amendment comes less than six months before 2010 Census questionnaires are mailed to 135 million households. About 425 million forms have already been printed, according to the bureau. Some are in different languages; others are duplicates that will go to houses that do not respond to the first mailing.

Philadelphia Lags Behind in 2010 Census Preparation Activities

Monday, October 12th, 2009

Hmmmm…maybe Philly Mayor Michael Nutter was either too busy dealing with Philly’s fiscal crisis or just not as committed to the 2010 Census as he claimed to be at a Senate hearing in April. Thanks to the Pew Charitable Trust for producing such a comprehensive report:

PEW REPORT EXAMINES CENSUS PREPARATIONS IN PHILADELPHIA

AND OTHER MAJOR CITIES

Philadelphia Lagging Behind Others in Preparation Activities

A new study from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative finds that Philadelphia is lagging behind other major cities in mounting the kind of local outreach and awareness campaign for the 2010 Census that many experts consider important for achieving a full count.

The studyPreparing for the 2010 Census: How Philadelphia and Other Cities Are Struggling and Why It Matters, looked at the preparations of Philadelphia and 10 other major cities for the 2010 Census. These include the five cities with larger populations than Philadelphia—New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Phoenix—and five chosen for their similarities to Philadelphia and their experience in dealing with the Census—Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Detroit and Pittsburgh.

The report finds that almost all of the cities studied have less money and fewer staffers for this Census than they did in 2000.

“Census preparation really matters,” said Thomas Ginsberg, project manager of Pew’s Philadelphia Research Initiative. “The outreach efforts are a cross between an election campaign and a municipal self-promotion drive, with very real ramifications that will be felt for the next 10 years.”

Philadelphia officials are planning to announce their local outreach campaign soon. And officials interviewed for the study say they are confident of their ability to catch up and conduct an effective outreach effort. In addition, they have launched the city’s first-ever challenge to the official population estimates the U.S. Census Bureau issues each year. The challenge, if fully accepted by the bureau, would produce a number showing that Philadelphia’s population is now growing after six decades of decline.

Seven of the other 10 cities had appointed or hired Census coordinators by last summer and had launched their citywide coordinating committees by early October. The other three—Boston, Chicago and Detroit—already are lined up to receive considerable financial and organizing support from local and statewide donor networks established specifically for the Census.

Preparing for the 2010 Census lays out what is at stake for cities: Without strong outreach and technical preparation by cities, the Census Bureau may have trouble improving its urban counts over previous Censuses and raising the below-average rate at which residents participate in its official once-a-decade count. That could lead to greater undercounts of certain groups or an entire city, which in turn would affect the population basis on which billions of tax dollars will be distributed over the coming decade and by which legislative seats—federal, state and local—will be allocated in 2011.

The stakes are particularly high in Philadelphia and other big cities that have high concentrations of the hard-to-count groups, including renters, immigrants, African Americans and Hispanics. According to an analysis conducted for the Philadelphia Research Initiative by Temple University statistician Eugene P. Ericksen, the Census Bureau likely undercounted Philadelphia’s population by an estimated 8,326 people a decade ago, or about 0.5 percent. Many of the other cities included in the report had similar or larger estimated undercounts.

About $430 billion in federal funds were distributed to local governments and residents in fiscal 2008, the last year for which such numbers are available, based at least in part on Census data. Analysts at the Brookings Institution say that Philadelphia and its residents received about $2,796 per capita, through Medicaid, housing vouchers, transportation funding and other programs. Due to the ways that the funding formulas work, the amount of money that would be generated by counting additional Philadelphians would be less than $2,796. But how much less is hard to say. It would depend on numerous factors, including the demographic characteristics of the individuals.

Apart from outreach campaigns, the study found that all 11 cities, including Philadelphia, have been participating in the voluntary technical Census Bureau programs that many experts consider more important to achieving a full count. The programs include a massive updating of household addresses, through which the cities submitted more than 1.5 million new or corrected addresses for the bureau to target next spring.

“For Philadelphia, a significant impact of the Census results could be in terms of the city’s psyche and its ability to promote itself. The city would get a lift if the headcount in 2010—or the challenge being launched over the recent population estimates—shows a population gain,” said Ginsberg. The count in 2000 was 1,517,550, and the most recent estimate was 1,447,395. The city’s challenge contends the recent figure should have been 1,536,171, higher than either previous figure. The Census Bureau is expected to rule on the city’s figure by the end of 2009. Pew’s research found that many cities have no plans to appropriate any public funds specifically for Census preparations; this is the case in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Pittsburgh, although all of those cities, including Philadelphia, expect to make use of existing staff and resources with some staff help from the Census Bureau. A decade ago, the city put in $200,000 and received $165,000 in philanthropic donations.

The shortfalls are leading many cities to rely on unpaid volunteers and grassroots organizing even more than in the past. City officials in Philadelphia are still hoping to receive funds from private sources. The William Penn Foundation has committed $12,350 for data analysis; city and Census Bureau officials held an initial briefing with other potential local funders in late September.

About the Report

To prepare this report, Thomas Ginsberg, project manager of Pew’s Philadelphia Research Initiative, studied numerous reports about the Census and talked to officials at the Census Bureau, independent experts and officials in Philadelphia and the 10 other cities. The report includes independent work done by Eugene P. Ericksen of Temple University, a nationally-recognized expert in assessing the accuracy of the Census, and by the Brookings Institution.

About The Philadelphia Research Initiative

The Philadelphia Research Initiative was created by Pew in fall 2008 to study critical issues facing Philadelphia and provide impartial research and analysis for the benefit of decision makers, the news media and the public. The initiative conducts public opinion polling, produces in-depth reports, and publishes briefs that illuminate front-and-center issues.

About Pew

The Pew Charitable Trusts (www.pewtrusts.org) is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. We partner with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations and concerned citizens who share our commitment to fact-based solutions and goal-driven investments to improve society.

Update: More Languages In Advance Letters

Friday, October 9th, 2009

If you’re interested in reading more information about the recent policy shift at the Census Bureau to distribute advance letters about the 2010 Census in multiple languages, check out the following documents:

Advance Letter from Robert M. Groves in multiple languages

Letter from Robert M. Groves explaining policy changes to leaders of minority organizations.

Government Will Not End Raids Prior To 2010 Census

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Check out the following little discussed story from the Associated Press that shows the Obama Administration taking an immigrant unfriendly position:

WASHINGTON (AP) — With the 2010 census six months away, the Commerce Department said Thursday it won’t seek a halt to immigrationraids as it did in the previous census in hopes of improving participation in hard-to-count communities.

In a statement, the department said it is committed to an accurate count of U.S. residents, including both legal and illegal immigrants. Spokesman Nick Kimball said officials will not ask the Homeland Security Department to stop large-scale immigration raids during the high stakes count that begins April 1.

That position is a departure from the one taken in the 2000 census, when immigration officials at the request of the Census Bureau informally agreed not to conduct raids. The bureau two years ago asked DHS to hold off again in 2010, but that was rejected by the Bush administration, which said it would continue to enforce federal laws.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department echoed that position and said it would not be revisiting the matter.

”Our job is to count every resident once, and in the right place, and that’s what we do,” Kimball said. ”All the information the Census Bureau collects is protected by law and will not be shared with any other agency. Neither the Commerce Department nor the Census Bureau will ask DHS to refrain from exercising their lawful authority.”

It remained unclear what Commerce’s stance might have on the likelihood of immigration raids next year. In recent months, the government has said it was seeking to shift enforcement efforts more toward criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants as well as cases in which an illegal immigrant may pose a safety threat to the community.

The Commerce statement comes as the Census Bureau enters the final stretch of preparations for the decennial count, which is used to apportion House seats and distribute nearly $450 billion in federal aid. With an effort to overhaul U.S. immigration laws expected to take place sometime next year, Census Director Robert Groves has said he’s particularly worried that tensions over immigration will deter people from participating in the count.

Are 13.5 million bilingual forms enough for America?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

In the below report, the AP discusses the ongoing efforts of the Census Bureau to integrate bilingual measures into the decennial headcount. However, as we wrote yesterday, many government leaders in California feel that these efforts don’t go far enough to reach the millions of Americans who don’t speak English:

LONG BEACH, Calif. — When Teresa Ocampo opens her census questionnaire, she won’t have to worry about navigating another document in English.

The 40-year old housewife who only speaks basic English will be able to fill hers out in Spanish — which is exactly what U.S. officials were banking on when they decided to mail out millions of bilingual questionnaires next year.

For the first time, the decennial census will be distributed in the two languages to 13.5 million households in predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods. Latino advocates hope the forms will lead to a more accurate count by winning over the trust of immigrants who are often wary of government and may be even more fearful after the recent surge in immigration raids and deportations.

“If the government is reaching out to you in a language you understand, it helps build trust,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “I think the community has become really sensitive to political developments, and the census is the next step in this movement that we’re seeing of civic engagement in the Latino community.”

Traditionally, experts say, the Census Bureau has undercounted minority and immigrant communities, who are harder to reach because of language barriers and distrust of government.

Latino advocates hope the bilingual forms will help show their strength in numbers to underscore their growing political influence and garner more in federal funds that are determined by population.

Census officials say they designed the bilingual forms after extensive research, using the Canadian census questionnaire as an example. Over a six-year testing period, officials said the forms drew a better response in Spanish-speaking areas.

The bilingual forms will be mailed out to neighborhoods where at least a fifth of households report speaking primarily Spanish and little English, said Adrienne Oneto, assistant division chief for content and outreach at the Census Bureau in Washington. The cost of preparing and mailing the bilingual questionnaires is about $26 million, which is more than it would have cost to send only English forms.

More than a quarter of the forms will be distributed in California from Fresno to the Mexican border, with Los Angeles County topping the list. The Miami and Houston areas will also receive sizable numbers of the questionnaires.

Automatic mailing of the bilingual forms debuts in 2010. In addition to Spanish, census forms will be made available in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian upon request. That’s similar to the 2000 census, when participants could request questionnaires in several languages.

But none of those other languages compares to the proliferation of Spanish. Roughly 34 million people reported speaking Spanish at home in the United States in 2007, more than all the other languages combined except English. Eighty percent of the U.S. population reported speaking only English at home.

The question is whether the bilingual forms will help overcome immigrant fears of federal authorities after seeing friends and family swept up in immigration raids over the last few years. While census data is confidential, many immigrants are wary of any interaction with the government.

“It is a difficult time for immigrants and I could see where there might be concern where being counted might lead to future negative consequences,” said Clara E. Rodriguez, professor of sociology at Fordham University in New York.

There are also concerns that the recession has dried up funding used to encourage people to fill out their census forms.

California, for example, pumped $24.7 million in 2000 into efforts to boost the state’s count but has only $2 million budgeted for the upcoming year, said Ditas Katague, the state’s 2010 census director.

The Census Bureau has worked with Spanish-language TV giant Telemundo to help get the word out. The network’s telenovela “Mas Sabe el Diablo” (The Devil Knows Best) will feature a character who applies to be a census worker.

Adding to the challenge of getting more people to participate is a boycott of the census called by Latino Christian leaders. They want illegal immigrants to abstain from filling out the forms to pressure communities that depend on their numbers to support immigration reform.

Census officials say they don’t expect a backlash from English speakers because those likely to receive bilingual forms are used to hearing the two languages side by side.

Trouble Brewing in California

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

The following is a letter from the state of California’s 2010 Census office to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke in Washington. (In other related news, 2010 Census boycotts have kick-started in California):

September 28, 2009

Director Katague Sends Letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Locke on Advance Letter

Director Ditas Katague today sent the following letter to Secretary Gary Locke urging reconsideration of the U.S. Census Bureau’s English-only Advance Letter policy:

September 28, 2009

The Honorable Gary Locke

Secretary of Commerce

U.S. Department of Commerce

1401 Constitution Avenue, Northwest

Washington, DC 20230

Dear Secretary Locke:

It has come to my attention that the U.S. Census Bureau has made the policy decision to send the Advance Letter in English-only in March 2010.  The Advance Letter is one of the first official communications coming directly from the U.S. Census Bureau for the decennial census.  By not including any in-language instructions or messages, I believe you are missing a huge opportunity to engage limited or non-proficient English speaking households in preparing them for the arrival of the census questionnaire.

I strongly urge you to reconsider this decision, as this decision risks completely missing the opportunity to communicate with those Hard-to-Count populations in our state.  Hundreds of languages other than English are spoken at home in California.  Based on 2008 American Community Survey (ACS) data, only 19,646,489 out of more than 30 million Californians speak only English .  That leaves millions and millions of California residents that could effectively not receive advance notice of the decennial census.

Lastly, we believe that any investment in sending a multi-lingual Advance Letter to Californians will ultimately serve to increase the Mail Back Response Rate (MRR), which will decrease the amount of Non-Response Follow-Up (NRFU) the Bureau conducts.  This could save valuable time and taxpayer money.

Again, I strongly urge you to reconsider your English-only Advance Letter policy immediately so that operations are not impacted and to ensure all Californians are counted.

Respectfully,

Ditas Katague
Director, 2010 Census Statewide Outreach

Governor’s Office of Planning and Research

cc:     The Honorable Nancy Pelosi

The Honorable Diane Feinstein

The Honorable Barbara Boxer

Robert Groves, U.S. Census Bureau Director

B16001. LANGUAGE SPOKEN AT HOME BY ABILITY TO SPEAK ENGLISH FOR THE POPULATION 5 YEARS AND OVER

Universe:  POPULATION 5 YEARS AND OVER

Data Set: 2008 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates

Telemundo to Include 2010 Census Storyline in Telenovela

Monday, September 21st, 2009

** CENSUS BUREAU MEDIA ADVISORY **

Telemundo to Include 2010 Census Storyline in Telenovela

What:         As part of Telemundo’s partnership with the 2010 Census, the Hispanic television network has written a census storyline into their popular telenovela “Más Sabe El Diablo.” Media are invited to attend a question-and-answer session about the census storyline and the 2010 Censuspartnership.

When: Tuesday, Sept. 22, 9 – 10 a.m. (EDT)

Who: Dr. Robert M. Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau
Don Browne, president, Telemundo
Michelle Vargas, Telemundo actress portraying “Perla Beltrán”

Los Angeles Times: Census Outreach Is Critical In L.A. County

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Some news from the City of Angels (click HERE for full article) – it’s too bad the LA Times’ new web site looks like it was built for a high school newspaper:

By Teresa Watanabe

With sprawling enclaves of immigrants, crowded housing conditions and pockets of deep poverty, Los Angeles is regarded as the nation’s most difficult county for census-takers to count.

But as they gear up for the decennial census beginning in April, officials are beefing up efforts to reach the region’s far-flung polyglot communities with more community outreach staff and language assistance, including a first-ever bilingual English-Spanish census form.

At a meeting last week in downtown Los Angeles, U.S. census officials met with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, dozens of community activists, nonprofit leaders and state and local government representatives to craft strategies on how to reach the 4.4 million people who live in “hard-to-count” neighborhoods in Los Angeles County.

Census officials give that designation to areas where residents traditionally have low rates of census participation, including immigrants with limited English, African Americans and other minority groups, the poor, the less educated and those who live in crowded housing.

Los Angeles County’s hard-to-count population dwarfs those in all other U.S. counties and is concentrated in the city’s central core, from Sunset Boulevard to Imperial Highway, the Terminal Island area and parts of the San Fernando Valley.

Officials fear funding shortages and mistrust toward the government among many immigrants could result in an undercount with enormous consequences for California: the possible loss of a U.S. congressional seat for the first time in state history and the loss of billions of dollars of federal funding for schools and other services.

Congressional seats and more than $300 billion in federal funding for more than 170 programs are apportioned by population, as determined by the census. By some estimates, each person counted results in $12,000 in federal funds over a decade.

“This is the most important census in California history,” said Ditas Katague, state census director.

Fueling the worries about an undercount next year is a sizable drop in state funding for outreach efforts: $3 million for next year, compared with $24.7 million in 2000.

James T. Christy, the U.S. Census Bureau’s Los Angeles regional director, said the federal government has stepped in with some increased funding. It has expanded the number of Los Angeles community outreach staff to more than 350 people from 50 in 2000 and is offering informational guides in 59 languages, an increase of more than 20%. The new languages include Polish, Russian and Arabic. In addition, Russian has been added to the telephone assistance system, which also operates in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese.

Nonprofit organizations have also tried to fill the gap. The California Endowment, which sponsored the census forum, announced last week that it would provide $4 million for statewide outreach, and the California Community Foundation had earlier announced grants of $1.5 million.

But Christy said the financial woes remain worrisome. “Community-based organizations don’t have the funding to tack on a census message,” he said.

Christy also said that next year’s census, the first since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, could be met with suspicion from minorities who may be wary of government intrusion into their lives. He said the Justice Department had assured the bureau that the Patriot Act, which gave law enforcement broader access to personal information for counter-terrorism investigations, could not be used to force the surrender of any census information. The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that census information must remain confidential, he said.

“No one can get access to census data,” Christy said. “It is rock solid secure.”

To address such concerns, census officials are expanding their outreach staff and dispatching “complete count” committees made up of local government officials and community members. Committees have been formed by Cambodians, Koreans, Filipinos and Sikhs, among others. Officials are pitching the census as “safe, easy and important,” noting that the form’s 10 questions will not ask for Social Security numbers or legal status.

Louisiana GOP Hopes To Take Drastic Measures To Prevent The Loss Of A Congressional Seat

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Here’s the scoop from the New Orleans Times-Picayune (click HERE for complete article):

BATON ROUGE — The chairman of the state Republican Party said Saturday the state party is looking at ways to prevent “illegal aliens” from being counted in the 2010 federal census. The goal is to preserve a congressional seat for Louisiana, he said.

Roger Villere of Metairie told the Republican State Central Committee, the party’s governing board, that if illegal immigrants are counted in the census, Louisiana likely will see its congressional delegation drop from seven to six House members. House seats are apportioned based on each state’s population in the census.

Villere said states such as Texas and California would pick up representation in Congress because of the large number of immigrants living in them. Federal policy is to count all residents, regardless of their legal status, at the time the census is taken.

“If they do not count the illegal aliens, we would not lose a seat” despite population declines caused by recent hurricanes, Villere said.

“We feel like we need to protect our sovereignty,” he said. “If we take the illegals out of the mix, we could retain one of our congressmen. … We are investigating our options. This is something we are seriously looking at.”

Villere said a decision will be made by year’s end on whether to file a lawsuit or lobby the administration and Congress for a policy change to exclude illegal immigrants. He said he has been in discussions with “people of national stature” on the matter but refused to name them.

“It is not a Republican problem,” he said after the committee’s quarterly meeting. “It is a Louisiana problem.”

Earlier, U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, estimated that 8 million illegal immigrants living in the country are now getting health care paid for by taxpayers.

During the meeting, committee members rejected a plan to hold a nominating convention in Lafayette, Baton Rouge or New Orleans next year to rally the party around one candidate each for a U.S. Senate race and the seven congressional seats.

A convention would energize and unify the party while drawing media attention, according to main proponent Mike Chittom of Baton Rouge.

Cali Gets Boo$t From Endowment

Friday, August 28th, 2009

California’s task of counting all of its citizens just became a wee bit easier. Thanks to the California Endowment, an additional $4 million has been added to the pot of the deficit-stricken state:

LOS ANGELES – (Business Wire) To ensure that every Californian is counted in the 2010 U.S. Census, the state’s largest, private health foundation today announced that it will make $4 million in grants towards a statewide campaign that will promote the importance of participating in the Census, particularly in the large number of “hard to count” communities throughout the state.

“Hard to count” populations are among California’s most vulnerable residents – low-income communities and communities of color.

The federal government makes funding allocations based on population counts from the Census, and for every resident not counted, the state will lose an estimated $11,500 in federal funding over the course of 10 years according to 2009 data from the Brookings Institution.

“At a time when the state is facing declining revenues, it is critical to the people of California that we ensure every resident is counted so we don’t lose out on federal funding essential to the health and well-being of all Californians,” said Robert K. Ross, M.D., president and CEO of The California Endowment.

“If 10 percent of California’s population of 37 million is not counted, the state stands to lose $42.4 billion in federal funding over the next decade,” Ross added.

About one-third of that funding is directly tied to health services, while all of the funding is tied to individual and family well-being which, in turn, is a significant component of health status.

California is home to 10 of the 50 counties in the nation that have been identified as being the hardest to count: Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino, Fresno, Riverside, Alameda, Sacramento, Kern and San Francisco. These counties are home to large populations that have been historically underrepresented in the Census, including immigrants, people of color, low-income communities, rural areas and those who live in multi-family housing.

Twitter Watch: Governator Hearts Census

Friday, August 28th, 2009

@Schwarzenegger has been Tweeting his brains off for many months. Now, he’s making #Census a priority…

San Francisco vs. The U.S. Census Bureau

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

H/t to the San Francisco Chronicle:

City Hall takes on the U.S. Census — again!

Squaring off against the U.S. Census is nothing new for City Hall officials – and they’re doing it again this week over the “advanced letter” the census sends all U.S. residents explaining the census questionnaire several weeks before they get the real thing.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera wants the U.S. Census to have a heartPaul Chinn/The Chronicle

In 2000, the advanced letter was sent in a variety of languages including Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Korean and Tagalog. But in February, the letter will go out in English only, with Spanish versions included in some census tracts.

That means a lot of San Francisco’s 325,000 residents who speak a language other than English may not understand what to do with the census questionnaire. And that means they may skip it altogether, go uncounted and cause the city to lose out on federal money.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera and David Chiu, president of the Board of Supervisors, have sent a letter to the census asking that it reconsider its policy change. Chiu also introduced legislation at the board calling for an inclusive advanced letter.

The city has a long history of waging battles against the census. In the 1970s, Chinese residents sued over an undercount in Chinatown. In 1990, the city sued over another undercount. In 2000, the city said the census undercounted by a whopping 100,000 people – causing the San Francisco to lose out on $30 million a year in federal funds. (The census compromised, giving the city another 34,209 people.)

Sonny Le, a media specialist with the census, said nothing about the advanced letter has been finalized. We asked him numerous times why the language change had been floated in the first place, and he couldn’t give an answer, only saying it was “a combination of different things.”

Florida’s Population On The Decline

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Check out the following piece from the St. Petersburg Times (Click HERE for full version):

Florida’s Population Shed About 50,000 Residents

By JAMES THORNER
St. Petersburg Times

Published: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 7:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 at 7:36 p.m.

The growth state is officially shrinking.

Hit by a double-whammy of the housing crash and the recession, Florida has lost population for the first time since the demobilization of hundreds of thousands of soldiers after World War II.

University of Florida demographers will report today that the state shed about 50,000 residents between April 2008 and April 2009. That should knock the number of Floridians down a notch from the previously reported 18.3 million.

It’s the first time since 1946 that Florida has been a net population loser. Even during the Great Depression, new residents swept into the state in search of work and leisure. But the severe housing contraction, combined with the sputtering of Florida’s job creation machine, has eclipsed the state’s former gravitational pull.

Rebuttal To WSJ Op-Ed

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Two days ago, we posted an op-ed that was published in the Wall Street Journal that called the 2010 Census unconstitutional. Well, Myrna Perez of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law shot back with the following piece:

Accounting for the Census Clause

In the inaccurately titled opinion piece (“Our Unconstitutional Census“) published on August 9 in the Wall Street Journal, Messrs. Baker and Stonecipher, a constitutional law professor and pollster respectively, falsely claim that the current practice of counting undocumented persons in the census for the purpose of apportionment is unconstitutional.

The “Census clause” or sometimes called the “Enumeration clause” is found in Article I, 1, § 2, cl. 3 of Constitution.  After taking into account the removal and additions that have occurred with later amendments, that clause reads as follows:  “Representatives . . . shall be apportioned among the several States . . . according to their respective Numbers . . . . The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”  Further, Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment states that “Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed.”

The Constitution uses the word “numbers” or “persons” — not “citizens,” or “legal residents,” or “those lawfully present” as the authors suggest.  Moreover, the Constitution wholly and explicitly empowers Congress to sort out the details.  The express delegation of the responsibility to Congress makes it odd that part of their opinion piece casts Congress fulfilling its constitutional obligations to make the policy determinations guiding the census as a bad thing.

In a move that is sure to irk “strict constructionists” the authors ignore the plain text of the Constitution and cite enabling legislation for support, arguing that the name of first census act used the word “inhabitant” and that the contemporaneous definition of that word were persons entitled to the privileges conferred by the state, which would exclude unlawful residents.  The word “inhabitant,” is not used in the Constitution’s Census clause, but is instead used when describing qualifications of Representatives and Senators.  In the Qualification clauses, the word “inhabitant” probably fairly means what the authors say it means.  But, it is improper for the authors to import a word from other sections of the Constitution into a clause where the framers deliberate and purposely omitted that word and claim that the word is controlling.

Even if Congressional understanding of the Constitution trumps its plain text, the first census act actually suggests reaching a contrary conclusion because that act counted slaves and non-white free persons.  It required the district marshals to swear or affirm an oath that they would undertake a “just and perfect enumeration and description of all persons resident within my district.”  Those facts mean that Congress at least had a more expansive view of “inhabitants” than the authors would allow, and as the Constitution indicates, Congress gets to make the call as to the details.

The authors invoke the Wesberry v. Sanders principle that there should be rough equivalents of voting citizens in state legislative districts.  Justice Rehnquist, however, in an opinion in the mid-90s rejected the application of the Wesberry principle to Congress when conducting the census.  He also noted that the Court had reached the same conclusion on two prior occasions because of the latitude given to Congress under the Constitution and because the districts at issue in Wesberry were intra-state, but federal apportionment required interstate review which could not be done with the same precision.  Even the Supreme Court disagrees with the authors.

There are good policy reasons for including all residents in a state when conducting apportionment.  A district’s representation affects everyone in the district; moreover a district’s representation is impacted by everyone in the district.

The authors may disagree that apportionments should be influenced by enumerations of undocumented persons, but it is false that the current practice of doing so is unconstitutional.

Our Unconstitutional Census

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Here is an excerpt from a very interesting op-ed that was published in today’s Wall Street Journal (For the entire article, CLICK HERE):

California could get nine House seats it doesn’t deserve because illegal aliens will be counted in 2010.

By JOHN S. BAKER AND ELLIOTT STONECIPHER

Mr. Baker teaches constitutional law at Louisiana State University. Mr. Stonecipher is a Louisiana pollster and demographic analyst.

Next year’s census will determine the apportionment of House members and Electoral College votes for each state. To accomplish these vital constitutional purposes, the enumeration should count only citizens and persons who are legal, permanent residents. But it won’t.

Instead, the U.S. Census Bureau is set to count all persons physically present in the country—including large numbers who are here illegally. The result will unconstitutionally increase the number of representatives in some states and deprive some other states of their rightful political representation. Citizens of “loser” states should be outraged. Yet few are even aware of what’s going on.

In 1790, the first Census Act provided that the enumeration of that year would count “inhabitants” and “distinguish” various subgroups by age, sex, status as free persons, etc. Inhabitant was a term with a well-defined meaning that encompassed, as the Oxford English Dictionary expressed it, one who “is a bona fide member of a State, subject to all the requisitions of its laws, and entitled to all the privileges which they confer.”

Thus early census questionnaires generally asked a question that got at the issue of citizenship or permanent resident status, e.g., “what state or foreign country were you born in?” or whether an individual who said he was foreign-born was naturalized. Over the years, however, Congress and the Census Bureau have added inquiries that have little or nothing to do with census’s constitutional purpose.

By 1980 there were two census forms. The shorter form went to every person physically present in the country and was used to establish congressional apportionment. It had no question pertaining to an individual’s citizenship or legal status as a resident. The longer form gathered various kinds of socioeconomic information including citizenship status, but it went only to a sample of U.S. households. That pattern was repeated for the 1990 and 2000 censuses.

The 2010 census will use only the short form. The long form has been replaced by the Census Bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey. Dr. Elizabeth Grieco, chief of the Census Bureau’s Immigration Statistics Staff, told us in a recent interview that the 2010 census short form does not ask about citizenship because “Congress has not asked us to do that.”

Because the census (since at least 1980) has not distinguished citizens and permanent, legal residents from individuals here illegally, the basis for apportionment of House seats has been skewed. According to the Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey data (2007), states with a significant net gain in population by inclusion of noncitizens include Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Texas. (There are tiny net gains for Hawaii and Massachusetts.)

This makes a real difference. Here’s why:

According to the latest American Community Survey, California has 5,622,422 noncitizens in its population of 36,264,467. Based on our round-number projection of a decade-end population in that state of 37,000,000 (including 5,750,000 noncitizens), California would have 57 members in the newly reapportioned U.S. House of Representatives.

However, with noncitizens not included for purposes of reapportionment, California would have 48 House seats (based on an estimated 308 million total population in 2010 with 283 million citizens, or 650,000 citizens per House seat). Using a similar projection, Texas would have 38 House members with noncitizens included. With only citizens counted, it would be entitled to 34 members.

Competitive Census Counting in New Jersey

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

The following story comes to us from NJ.com (click here for the full version):

As 2010 Census nears, Jersey City eyes top spot in state

by Ralph R. Ortega/The Star-Ledger

Sunday August 02, 2009, 7:43 AM

Jersey City is No. 2, but has its eyes on the top spot.

Newark, meanwhile, is entrenched like an old champion not ready to give up its title.

Mahala Gaylord/The Star-LedgerFans at All Points West Music Festival on Friday in Jersey City, which is inching its way closer to Newark in total population.

Up for grabs is the right to be known as the largest city in New Jersey and the winner will be crowned after the 2010 Census. At stake beyond those bragging rights are billions of dollars in population-based funding — money that has both cities ramping up their efforts ahead of the count.

“It’s going to be close,” said Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy last month.

But Newark officials say there’s no contest.

“Unless they take one of the most historic population jumps of any city in America, not just in New Jersey, they’re not going to catch us,” Newark Mayor Cory Booker said.

The latest population estimates show what Jersey City is up against. Newark has 278,980 residents — a cushion of 37,866 over its Hudson County rival across Newark Bay.

Despite the long-shot odds of Jersey City coming out ahead of Newark any time soon, the Census will determine how $300 billion will be doled out by the federal government each year for a decade, starting next year, said Raul Vicente, a spokesman for the Census. That means officials across New Jersey are doing everything they can to make sure they’re not under-counted

Trouble in Florida For Hatians

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

There were significant troubles in Florida during the 2000 Census that resulted in many Census Bureau employees being fired from their jobs and a recount taken in certain areas of the state. Will there be similar problems in 2010? Many Floridians, especially minorities, fear just that. Check out the following reports from the Sun Sentinel:

When census takers visit Walter Hunter’s mostly black community in Pompano Beach next year for the big, every-10-years count, he predicts they will encounter a lot of slammed doors.

They are likely to get a similar reception in Delmond Desira’s Haitian neighborhood in Delray Beach, where many don’t understand how filling out the 10-question form would improve their lives.

Hunter and Desira live in South Florida enclaves the U.S. Census Bureau ranks among the hardest to count: pockets of Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Pembroke Park, Delray Beach and Belle Glade.

In those areas, with heavy concentrations of immigrants who don’t speak English, poor people and rental units, almost half the residents did not return mailed surveys for the last big count, in 2000.

Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade are among the 50 counties in the nation with the most people living in hard-to-count areas, according to a report released in April by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a children’s advocacy group.

This time, the Census Bureau plans to work harder to reach these people, through the schools, a more creative multi-language campaign and a shorter survey form — 10 questions that take just 10 minutes, the catch phrase goes. Volunteers will put up signs in beauty salons and convenience stores and get the word out at houses of worship and nonprofit centers.

This fall, grade-school children will study the census in math and geography classes, and they will take home census materials for their parents. In January, the Census Bureau will launch an advertising campaign in 28 languages urging participation. The form is not available in Creole, however, and critics say that will hinder the count of South Florida’s large Haitian population.

And another story:

Some of the people that make up Florida’s Haitian community may not partake in one of the most important events of this nation – the 2010 Census. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, heavily concentrated areas where Haitians live, such as Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach are very hard to tally when it comes to the once-a-decade count. This is mainly due to the language barrier that most Haitians, many being immigrants, encounter when it comes to understanding and completing the surveys issued by the Census Bureau.

Although the Broward County‘s Census 2010 Complete Count Committee is strategizing ways to get to those who were missed back in 2000 by producing informational guides in various languages, including Creole, the actual census is not offered in Haiti’s national language. Despite the Bureau’s outreach effort, it may still have difficulty reaching these communities. As a Haitian-American, I can attest that many Haitian residents, especially those who do not speak English, will probably disregard the survey once they receive it in the mail. This is simply because they do not understand the importance and / or the basis of the Census. In other words, such a survey is considered junk mail.

I believe an effective strategy would be to educate the community on what exactly the Census is, the concept behind it and why it is imperative that they participate. Nevertheless, the fact that the Census Bureau is launching an advertising campaign in 28 languages, except for Creole, will contribute to the hindrance in the counts, at least in South Florida. While some Haitian immigrants and / or residents may rely on their English-speaking children to translate the Census survey, a majority of them will not have that advantage. Those who come to the United States together as a family, but are without relatives in the country, will be the hardest to reach.

This was very much the case for my parents, until my siblings and I came into the picture. Though they were able to survive on their own, the fact that we came around made life much easier for them. For example, learning about the Census at school allowed me to go home and look out for the surveys, as well as assist my parents in answering the questions. Now they have a better understanding of the Census and are capable of filling it out on their own.

Hopefully, the Haitian children that are starting school this fall will not only learn census in math and geography classes, but will also be able to pass on the knowledge to their parents. If not, then the Census Bureau may want to develop a new marketing campaign in Creole.