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.