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.

Posts Tagged ‘Latino’

Latinos not voting propotionally with their population gains…

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Here’s an interesting piece from Adam Nagourney of the New York Times.

 More than 21 million Latinos will be eligible to vote this November, clustered in pockets from Colorado to Florida, as well as in less obvious states like Illinois, Iowa, North Carolina and Virginia. Yet just over 10 million of them are registered, and even fewer turn out to vote.

In the 2008 presidential election, when a record 10 million Latinos showed up at the polls nationwide, that amounted to just half of the eligible voters. By contrast, 66 percent of eligible whites and 65 percent of eligible blacks voted, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center.

Notes from a more integrated America: The 2010 Census shows that segregation is clearly on the decline

Monday, January 30th, 2012

A great piece from Sam Roberts at the New York Times today about how segregation is on the decline in America. Here’s a highlight:

The study of census results from thousands of neighborhoods by two economics professors who are fellows at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative research organization, found that the nation’s cities are more racially integrated than at any time since 1910; that all-white enclaves “are effectively extinct”; and that while black urban ghettos still exist, they are shriveling.

An influx of immigrants and the gentrification of black neighborhoods contributed to the change, the study said, but suburbanization by blacks was even more instrumental.

The progress was less pronounced between blacks and non-Hispanic whites, though, than it has been between blacks and nonblacks, including Asians and Hispanic people.

 

2010 Census news roundup…

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Hi everyone, it’s been a long time. Unfortunately, life has made it such that MyTwoCensus.com isn’t my #1 priority at this moment, but that doesn’t mean that the impact of the 2010 Census is any less pertinent. In fact, there has been tons of news lately about the 2010 Census. Some key stories that I’ve been following:

1.  As I would have predicted, specifically in the case of New York, where I identified myriad problems with 2010 Census operations, the city is disputing its 2010 Census numbers as it will likely be missing out on a ton of federal funding ($3,000 per resident not counted per year). Here’s some info.

2. Despite its inflated advertising budget (don’t forget that bomb of a Super Bowl ad), the Census Bureau’s 2010 Census ad campaign is winning awards…but again, these are industry awards created by the industry, for the industry, so don’t take them too seriously. When you compare the amount of ad dollars spent in 2000 vs. 2010 to the participation rates, it is clear that 2000 was a better performance proportionally.

3. This shouldn’t be a major shock, but America’s demographics are  CHANGING. While the surge of Hispanics was expected, people didn’t expect the number of Asians in America to be growing so quickly. Here’s some info.

4. Minorities are moving to the suburbs and whites are moving to the cities, reversing trends that started in the post-war era. This is very interesting.

5. The GOP’s (Republican Party) success in the 2010 Elections may translate to redistricting success. Here’s a look at how the GOP won big in the 2010 Census.

On a more positive note, I have become quite interested in genealogy in recent months and I can tell you that US Census records have been invaluable in tracing my family’s history. In this sense, I am quite happy and proud that my family participated in the 2010 Census, because maybe, long after I’m gone, a future generation will be able to access information and learn about life in the year 2010.

On the Closing of the Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Centers . . . and Beyond

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The following press release represents the opinions of the Latino Census Network, not MyTwoCensus.com:
by the Latino Census Network (April 21, 2010)

The Latino Census Network has received a number of inquiries about the closing of the Census Bureau’s Be Counted and Questionnaire Assistance Centers. Members of the New York City Council have written to the Census Directors asking that these centers be kept open for an additional 30 days. Other have expressed surprise that these centers have closed.

The Census Bureau informs us that these centers had been scheduled to close on April 19th from the start. Because these were established through contracts with community-based organizations and other institutions through contracts, it would be difficult to extend these agreements at this point.

The Census Bureau’s focus now is on their Non-Response Follow-up (NRFU). Door-to-door census taking occurs starting May 1nd through June and early July 2010. Local census takers will visit households that did not mail back a census form. All census takers carry an official badge and a shoulder bag – both with the Department of Commerce seal – and a binder. During a visit, census takers will show ID and hand respondents an information sheet explaining that their answers are confidential. The census taker will complete the questionnaire, which should take about 10 minutes. If no one is home, a “notice of visit” will be left at the door inviting the resident to call the census taker to complete the form over the phone.

With the mail-in participation so close now to the 2000 Census rates at the national level, the Census Bureau no doubt sees this mail-in part of the process a success. It is expected that in the next week or so, additional Census forms will come in, making it possible that the 2000 participation rate will be matched. Given all of the factors that make this 2010 Census more challenging than the last (9/11, greater anti-immigrant sentiment, etc.), this level of mail-in participation is considered a success, at least at the national level.

Title 13, U.S. Code, requires that the apportionment population counts for each state be delivered to the President within nine months of the census date, by December 31. 2010. According to Title 2, U.S. Code, within one week of the opening of the next session of the Congress, the President must report to the Clerk of the House of Representatives the apportionment population counts for each state and the number of Representatives to which each state is entitled. Also according to Title 2, U.S. Code, within 15 days, the Clerk of the House must inform each state governor of the number of representatives to which each state is entitled.

The legislatures in each state are responsible for geographically defining the boundaries of their congressional and other election districts–a process known as redistricting–and more detailed census results are used for these purposes. Public Law 94-171, enacted by Congress in December 1975, requires the Census Bureau to provide state legislatures with the small area census population tabulations necessary for legislative redistricting. The Census Bureau must transmit the total population tabulations to the states by April 1, 2011.

FYI: http://www.censusdiscriminationlawsuit.com/

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The above site provides details about the recent class action hiring lawsuit. Ah, America’s lawyers embracing technology to make a quick buck. Love it.

Immigrants more likely than natives to participate in 2010 Census

Friday, April 9th, 2010

H/t to New America Media for the following:

Foreign-born Hispanics are more positive and knowledgeable about the 2010 U.S. Census than are native-born Hispanics, a new survey has found, suggesting that a massive advertising campaign launched earlier this year has paid off.

The survey, conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center in the second half of March, found that foreign-born Hispanics were more likely than the native born to believe that the Census is good for Hispanics, to correctly say the Census cannot be used to determine whether a person is in the country illegally, and to trust the bureau’s claim that all personal information would be kept confidential.

The foreign born were also much more likely to have seen something recently from an organization encouraging them to fill out their census form, according to a report on the study put together by Mark Hugo Lopez and Paul Taylor of the Pew Hispanic Center.

Census participation rates among Hispanics have traditionally been lower than those of other groups. In the 2000 Census, the mail return rate among Hispanic households was 69 percent, while for non-Hispanic households it was 79 percent. As part of its effort to increase participation rates among groups that have historically had low levels of census participation, the Census Bureau has spent about 20 percent of its total advertisement budget this year on paid ads aimed at the Hispanic community, mainly Spanish speakers.

While 70 percent of Hispanic adults say the census is good for U.S. Hispanics, the foreign-born were much more likely to think so — 80 percent verses 57 percent.

Foreign-born Hispanics were also more likely than native-born Hispanics to correctly say the census cannot be used to determine whether or not someone is in the country legally –69 percent versus 57 percent.

And they are more inclined than the native born to trust the Census Bureau to keep their personal information confidential. Eight-in-ten of both groups know that the bureau is required to do so; however, among those who know this, just 66 percent of the native born said they believe the bureau will abide by this requirement, compared with 80 percent of the foreign born.

Hispanics are the nation’s largest minority ethnic group. In 2008, they numbered 46.9 million, or 15.4 percent of the total U.S. population, up from 35.3 million in the 2000 Census. Among all Hispanics living in this country, 62 percent are native born and 38 percent are foreign born. Among Hispanic adults, however, just 47 percent are native born while 53 percent are foreign born.

2010 Census Questions for Cesar Conde, head of Univision Networks

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

The following interview is courtesy of the LA Times:

What does this year’s census mean to Latinos and Univision?

The 2010 census is going to go down in history as the census of the Latinos. We have the opportunity as a country to really embrace the fact that we are moving to a multiethnic society. That is one of the strengths of our country today. We as a company, and we as a community, are very excited by that.

How did the 2000 census change Univision’s business?

It helped us to begin to have more conversations with organizations that were starting to realize the role that this community would play across all aspects of our country — social, economic, political and cultural — through the coming years and decades.

Fast-forward to this coming census in 2010, and I think it’s going to be a big wake-up call. What will surprise people is the exponential growth of the Latino community, coming off of an already big and growing base. Second, we are going to begin to see growth in the Hispanic market in parts of our country that people don’t necessarily expect. To see the growth of the Latino population in Los Angeles, Miami and New York is wonderful but somewhat expected. You are going to see more growth in geographic pockets, places that people don’t intuitively think of as part of the Hispanic community.

How great is the fear that Spanish speakers and other immigrants might not recognize the importance of the census form?

This is why we have become so proactive in ensuring that we communicate to our community how important the census is. We have to communicate what is the benefit, what is the value, of filling out this census not only for themselves as individuals but also for their local communities, and our community. Univision is in a unique position because of our unique connection and relationship that we have with Hispanics.

How do you reassure people that filling out a government form will not invite problems?

Confidentiality is a big issue in the census. We tried to pick our most trustworthy talent on Univision to speak about the importance of this issue, putting our most trusted voices out there to become the face of the “Ya Es Hora” campaign.

[Univision news anchor] Maria Elena Salinas is our primary spokesperson. She and the others talk about why people can trust this process. We literally allocate material airtime to walk our audience by the hand through the process. We will be running this series of stories and public-service announcements through and past April 1 to address this concern and talk people through some of these issues that are, at the end of the day, important for them and beneficial for them.

Not only that, but an increasing Latino population benefits Univision.

Our mission here at Univision is to inform, entertain and empower. Most people can get their arms around the first two, informing and entertaining, because they are such a key part of what we do. That third one, empowerment, is sometimes a little more nebulous. This concept is that we need to make sure that we are working on the issues that most impact our community. We have this incredible privilege to have this leadership position and to have this unique relationship with our audience. And with that privilege comes a responsibility, one we take seriously.

2010 is a very big year for many Latinos and Univision. Which is more important: the World Cup or the census?

(Laughs.) It’s going to be telling Latinos how important it is to fill out the census during the World Cup.

Pepsi, Terra Team Up on Pepsi Yo Sumo Census 2010 Effort

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

H/t to David Cohen of Media Bestro for the following:

Pepsi Yo Sumo isn’t a new viral-video craze combining a soft drink and a large, scantily clad Japanese man. Rather, it’s an effort byPepsi and Latin Internet company Terra to encourage Hispanics in the United States to participate in Census 2010.

The viral campaign is aimed at second- and third-generation U.S. Hispanics, encouraging them to share stories and photos on the Web site, which will then be fed to Terra, which claims 3.5 million users in the country. A Pepsi Yo Sumo widget is being featured on Terra’s site.

Terra will also host user polls on the census, which Pepsi will sponsor via banner ads, and users can add the widget, built by New York-based Second Thought, to their social-networking pages.

Terra USA vice president of sales Jim McCabe said:

When it comes to 2010 Census participation, the Pepsi Yo Sumo campaign has the message and Terra has the audience. By bringing the two together, second- and third-generation U.S. Hispanics will show the world how many they are and how they’re changing the landscape of this country.

Do Spanish speakers get an extra month to complete their forms?

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

UPDATE: All BE COUNTED forms, intended for people may not have received 2010 Census forms when they were supposed to, are to be returned by May 1, regardless of what language the forms have been printed in. Thanks to our readers for clarifying.

H/t to Denise Poon who created last week’s article series for Spot.us for bringing the following to my attention:

Census Day is undoubtedly April 1, 2010…so why does this 2010 Census form tell Spanish-speakers that they have until May 1 to return it? Was this a printing error? A translation error? An operational error? A double standard? MyTwoCensus has contacted the Census Bureau about this case and hopes to hear an answer very soon.

Transcript of Los Angeles 2010 Census Press Conference: Indianapolis, Indiana Gets Screwed!

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Apologies for the awkward numbering system, but that’s how the transcript came in…Check out how Indianapolis is getting SCREWED by the Census Bureau (scroll down to the Q&A portion…I understand that Dr. Groves was under the weather during this press conference, but still, there were way too few questions asked and answered here!):
3                        TRANSCRIPTION OF

4              THIRD ANNUAL 2010 CENSUS OPERATIONAL

5                         PRESS BRIEFING

6                          March 1, 2010 (more…)

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.

censusadx-large

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.

Consuls from Latin America will help with the 2010 Census

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

From the LA Times:

In an effort to allay any fears between the immigrant community and federal authorities, officials with the 2010 Census met with consuls of several Latin American countries to ask for support in their communities to spread the word about the importance of being counted.

“It is vital that every person living in the United States takes part to assure accurate representation and funding for vital services”, said Marycarmen Moran, promoter of the 2010 Census, adding that the consuls agreed to do all they can to make the census a success.

This cooperation is needed because Latino immigrants, mainly undocumented, have expressed concern regarding the confidentiality of the information obtained during the process, according to consulate officials.

“The immigration status of the individual is an issue that has generated some fear among immigrants”, said Eddie Bedon, Ecuador’s Consul General. “The Office of the Census has assured us that the confidentiality of the information will be safeguarded, and the census is being conducted irrespective of immigration status”.

“For Ecuador,” Bedón continued, “the information gleaned from the census will be very important. The statistics regarding the number of Ecuadoreans who live and work here will help us meet their needs, and defend their rights and interests”.

William Jarquin, Consul of El Salvador, also affirmed that his government is committed to working with the census. “For Salvadorans it is extremely important because we need to know just how many of us are out there”.

Pablo César Garcia, Consul General of Guatemala, said: “Immigrants need to understand that when they cooperate with the Census, they are helping to create statistics that will then be used to obtain more community investment because, based on these statistics, the city of Los Angeles will receive more [federal] funds for education and health”.

In addition to the consuls from Guatemala, El Salvador and Ecuador, at the meeting with Census officials were also present consuls from Argentina, Uruguay, Spain, Bolivia, México and the Dominican Repúblic, among others.

–Paula Diaz/HOY

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.

LA Times Editorial: Latino boycott of the census makes no sense

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Check out this editorial from the LA Times:

Latino boycott of the census makes no sense

In a report on undercounting in the 2000 census, the accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers calculated that states loses more than $3,000 per uncounted resident. California, for example, is already out hundreds of millions of dollars because of an undercount in the 2000 census of an estimated 500,000 people. Los Angeles, Alameda, San Bernardino, Orange and San Diego counties will lose the bulk of that money, with L.A. losing more than $600 million over 10 years.

Unfortunately, this boycott movement seems to be gaining momentum; it dovetails with an existing fear of government detection. But anyone who boycotts the census has a poor understanding of U.S. history. Political power in this country is tethered to visibility. It is not a coincidence that in the past, the voiceless — Native Americans on reservations, enslaved African Americans — were purposely not counted in the census. (Actually, for taxation and representation purposes, the latter were counted as three-fifths of a person.)

There is no logical reason to fear participation. By law, all personal census information is sealed for 72 years, and no one who fills out a form is going to be deported as a result. With nothing to gain but much to lose, boycotting the census would be a strange tactic for people who have marched by the millions, revealing their numbers for the world to see. Whatever happened to “Today we march, tomorrow we vote”?

Funds and services depend on an accurate count; boycotting could hurt those who need those things the most.
June 4, 2009

The latest effort to push illegal immigrants further into the shadows of civic life comes from an unexpected quarter. Not from those who would gladly deport every single person residing in this country without permission, but from advocates who profess to have their best interest at heart. The National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders is urging illegal immigrants not to participate in the 2010 census. The group’s supposed logic? That the statistical invisibility of 11 million to 12 million people will be a powerful lever to move legislators and the Obama administration to act with urgency and create a pathway to citizenship.

This misguided advice could have come from the Minuteman Project. Because an undercount means that the very places where illegal immigrants reside and use services, those states and counties already in desperate financial straits will be shortchanged of federal funding that would help all residents. Are these church leaders also urging illegal immigrants to not send their children to school? To avoid hospitals? To forgo driving on highways? An undercount means diminished funding for those public necessities and many others. Furthermore, census data determine voting districts. Are these advocates calling for fewer elected officials who might actually negotiate a pathway to citizenship?

Update: Latino Clergy Divided Over Census Boycott

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Teresa Watanabe of the L.A. Times reports on the decision for Latino members of the clergy to encourage their congregants to boycott the 2010 Census:

U.S. census sparks feud over the counting of illegal immigrants

A national Latino clergy group wants 1 million to boycott the count in an effort to press for legalization. But immigrant activists decry the plan.
By Teresa Watanabe
May 31, 2009

In a high-stakes battle that could affect California’s share of federal funding and political representation, immigrant activists are vowing to combat efforts by a national Latino clergy group to persuade 1 million illegal immigrants to boycott the 2010 U.S. census.

The Washington, D.C.-based National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, which says it represents 20,000 Latino churches in 34 states, recently announced that a quarter of its 4 million members were prepared to join the boycott as a way to intensify pressure for legalization and to protect themselves from government scrutiny.

“Before being counted, we need to be legalized,” said the Rev. Miguel Rivera, the coalition’s chairman and founder.

But the boycott call has infuriated many Latino organizations. La Opinión, in a recent editorial, denounced it as a “dangerous mistake” that “verges on political suicide” while an official with the National Assn. of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials called it “wildly irresponsible.”

“This is a phenomenal step backward in the strides we have made to make sure we are equal,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Latino officials group.

The decennial census, which counts all people regardless of immigration status, is used to allocate federal funds for education, housing, healthcare, transportation and other local needs. By some estimates, every person counted results in $1,000 in federal funds.

The census is also used to apportion the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, which are based on a state’s population.

According to a study in 2003, California’s sizable illegal immigrant population allowed it to gain three House seats it might otherwise not have received. The state’s illegal immigrant population also caused Indiana, Michigan and Mississippi to each lose one of their seats and prevented Montana from gaining a seat.

The study by the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based research group that promotes immigration restrictions, also argued that the illegal immigrant population skewed the “one man, one vote” principle in elections.

In 2002, the study found, it took almost 100,000 votes to win the typical congressional race in the four states that lost or failed to gain a seat, compared with 35,000 votes to win in immigrant-rich districts in California.

Back in 1988, the effect on apportionment, which also affects the Electoral College, prompted a lawsuit by 40 members of Congress, Pennsylvania and the Federation for American Immigration Reform to prevent the Census Bureau from counting illegal immigrants. The complaint was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court for lack of standing.

“People who have no right to be in this country should not be counted,” said federation President Dan Stein. “It’s awfully hard to explain to U.S. citizens why they keep losing political representation to states like California because of people who broke immigration laws.”

Vargas and others questioned the boycott organizers’ political motivations, noting that most of them were conservative.

Rivera acknowledged that his coalition endorsed George W. Bush in 2004 and slightly favored Republican presidential nominee John McCain over Democrat Barack Obama by a vote of 52% to 48% last year. But he denied that the boycott was aimed at aiding Republicans.

He said his group was concerned that federal funds obtained in part through the counting of illegal immigrants would be used against them to increase arrests and harassment by local law enforcement.

Rivera also said he wanted to use the boycott as a way to pressure Congress to pass legislation offering legalization to illegal immigrants.

So far, his group appears to have gained little traction in California. A group of affiliated Latino pastors plans to meet in the next week or two to discuss the boycott call but has made no decision yet, according to Jose Caballero, a Camarillo minister.

But other Latino leaders say they are nervous about the boycott.

“The fact that they are getting a lot of media attention concerns us that they could do a lot of damage,” said Brent Wilkes, executive director of the League of United Latin American Citizens in Washington, D.C.

Using the same slogan as their successful citizenship campaigns — “Ya es Hora,” or “It’s Time” — Spanish-language media, community groups, labor unions and churches plan to launch a far-reaching campaign urging mass participation in the census.

Boycott or not, they have their work cut out for them. Although the Census Bureau by law must keep information confidential, that message has not entirely gotten through.

At Our Lady Queen of Angels Church near Olvera Street, migrant farm worker Juan Garcia said he would not participate because of fears of how the information might be used.

Another illegal immigrant, Julian Chavez, also voiced concern that census workers would contact him at work, go to his home and ask nosy questions. Asked if he would participate, Chavez hedged his answer.

“Will there be consequences?” he asked. “I have my family to think about.”

Editorial: Those hard to count Jews…not!

Monday, June 1st, 2009

censusfloatisraelparade

Last week, MyTwoCensus criticized the Census Bureau’s lack of a parade float in San Francisco’s annual Carnaval parade, a celebration of Central American, South American, and Caribbean cultures. Thanks to the above photo, submitted to us by Sharon Udasin, ace New York-based reporter for The Jewish Week, MyTwoCensus now knows that the Census Bureau does in fact have the resources and capabilities to create such a float.  The float depicted above was paraded through the streets of Manhattan during yesterday’s Salute to Israel parade, a celebration of 61 years of Israeli independence.

Whereas many Latino/a immigrants are considered “hard to reach” because of their questionable legal status in America, this isn’t a problem amongst the Jewish and Israeli communities in New York. Even though New York’s thousands of Hasidic Jews (mostly living in Brooklyn) may speak Yiddish in their homes, nearly all of them speak fluent English and are citizens of the United States.

This begs the question: Why did the Census Bureau choose to sponsor a large float in the Israeli Independence Day parade in New York but not at the Carnaval parade in San Francisco?

To our readers: If you have been to any public events that have featured public relations efforts by the Census Bureau, please feel free to comment and share with us what you witnessed.

Is Sotomayor the Court’s First Hispanic?

Friday, May 29th, 2009

From our friends at Pew:

by Jeffrey Passel and Paul Taylor, Pew Hispanic Center

PrintEmailShare

Is Sonia Sotomayor the first Hispanic ever nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court? Or does that distinction belong to the late Justice Benjamin Cardozo, who served on the court from 1932-1938 and whose ancestors may or may not have come from Portugal?

Unscrambling Cardozo’s family tree is best left to historians and genealogists. Here we take a stab at a more daunting question. Just who is a Hispanic?

If you turn to the U.S. government for answers, you quickly discover that it has two different approaches to this definitional question. Both are products of a 1976 act of Congress and the administrative regulations that flow from it.

One approach defines a Hispanic or Latino as a member of an ethnic group that traces its roots to 20 Spanish-speaking nations from Latin America and Spain itself (but not Portugal or Portuguese-speaking Brazil).

The other approach is much simpler. Who’s Hispanic? Anyone who says they are. And nobody who says they aren’t.

The U.S. Census Bureau uses this second approach. By its way of counting, there were 46,943,613 Hispanics in the United States as of July 1, 2008, comprising 15.4% of the total national population.

But behind the impressive precision of this official Census number lies a long history of changing labels, shifting categories and revised question wording — all of which reflect evolving cultural norms about what it means to be Hispanic.

Here’s a quick primer on how the Census Bureau approach works.

Q. I immigrated to Phoenix from Mexico. Am I Hispanic?

A. You are if you say so.

Q. My parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico. Am I Hispanic?

A. You are if you say so.

Q. My grandparents were born in Spain but I grew up in California. Am I Hispanic?

A. You are if you say so.

Q. I was born in Maryland and married an immigrant from El Salvador. Am I Hispanic?

A. You are if you say so.

Q. My mom is from Chile and my dad is from Iowa. I was born in Des Moines. Am I Hispanic?

A. You are if you say so.

Q. I was born in Argentina but grew up in Texas. I don’t consider myself Hispanic. Does the Census count me as an Hispanic?

A. Not if you say you aren’t.

Q. Okay, I get the point. But isn’t there something in U.S. law that defines Hispanicity?

A. Yes. In 1976, the U.S. Congress passed the only law in this country’s history that mandated the collection and analysis of data for a specific ethnic group: “Americans of Spanish origin or descent.” The language of that legislation described this group as “Americans who identify themselves as being of Spanish-speaking background and trace their origin or descent from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Central and South America and other Spanish-speaking countries.” Standards for collecting data on Hispanics were developed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 1977 and revised in 1997. Using these standards, schools, public health facilities and other government entities and agencies keep track of how many Hispanics they serve (which was a primary goal of the 1976 law).

However, the Census Bureau does not apply this definition in counting Hispanics. Rather, it relies entirely on self-reporting and lets each person identify as Hispanic or not. The 2000 Census form asked the “Hispanic” question this way:

Is this person Spanish/Hispanic/Latino?
Mark (X) the “No” box if not Spanish/Hispanic/Latino.
__ No, not Spanish/Hispanic/ Latino
__ Yes, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano
__ Yes, Puerto Rican
__ Yes, Cuban
__ Yes, other Spanish/Hispanic/Latino – Print group –> ____________

That question wording will be tweaked slightly in the 2010 Census, but the basic approach will be the same: People will be counted as Spanish/Hispanic/Latino if — and only if — that’s what they say they are. These self-reports are not subject to any independent checks, corroborations or corrections. Theoretically, someone who is Chinese could identify himself as Hispanic and that’s how he would be counted.

Q. But the Census also asks people about their race and their ancestry. How do these responses come into play when determining if someone is Hispanic?

A. They don’t. In the eyes of the Census Bureau, Hispanics can be of any race, any ancestry, any country of origin. The result is that there are varying patterns relating to where people come from and how they choose to identify themselves on the Census. For example, some 99% of all immigrants from Mexico call themselves Hispanic. But just 87% of immigrants from Venezuela adopt this label, as do 86% of immigrants from Argentina, 70% of immigrants from Spain and only 67% from Panama. As for race, 54% of all Hispanics in the U.S. self-identify as white, 1.5% self-identify as black, 40% do not identify with any race and 3.8% identify as being two or more races.

Q. What about Brazilians, Portuguese and Filipinos? Are they Hispanic?

A. They are in the eyes of the Census if they say they are, even though these countries do not fit the official OMB definition of “Hispanic” because they are not Spanish-speaking. For the most part, people who trace their ancestry to these countries do not self-identify as Hispanic when they fill out their Census forms. Only about 4% of immigrants from Brazil do so, as do just 1% of immigrants from Portugal or the Philippines. These patterns reflect a growing recognition and acceptance of the official definition of Hispanics. In the 1980 Census, about one-in-six Brazilian immigrants and one-in-eight Portuguese and Filipino immigrants identified as Hispanic. Similar shares did so in the 1990 Census, but by 2000, the shares identifying as Hispanic dropped to levels close to those seen today.

Q.How do Hispanics themselves feel about the labels “Hispanic” and “Latino”?

A. The labels are not universally embraced by the community that has been labeled. A 2006 survey by the Pew Hispanic Center found that 48% of Latino adults generally describe themselves by their country of origin first; 26% generally use the terms Latino or Hispanic first; and 24% generally call themselves American on first reference. As for a preference between “Hispanic” and “Latino”, a 2008 Center survey found that 36% of respondents prefer the term “Hispanic,” 21% prefer the term “Latino” and the rest have no preference.

Q. What about Puerto Ricans? Where do they fit in?

A. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens by birth — whether they were born in New York (like Judge Sotomayor) or in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (like her parents). According to the Census, some 97% of all persons born in Puerto Rico and living in the mainland United States consider themselves Hispanics. Overall, Puerto Ricans are the second largest group of Hispanics in the 50 states and District of Columbia — they make up 9% of the mainland Hispanic population, well behind the Mexican-origin share of 64%, but ahead of the 3.5% share of Cubans. In 2007, the 4.1 million persons of Puerto Rican origin living in the mainland United States exceeded Puerto Rico’s population of 3.9 million

Q. So, bottom line: Is Judge Sotomayor the first Hispanic to be nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, or not?

A. By the OMB’s definition, yes — Cardozo’s Portuguese roots (assuming he in fact had them) don’t make him Hispanic. But by the Census Bureau approach, not necessarily — for it would depend on how Cardozo would have chosen to identify himself. However, there’s an important historical footnote to consider. The terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” hadn’t yet been coined for official data when Cardozo was alive. In the 1930 Census, the only effort to enumerate Hispanics appeared as part of the race question, which had a category for “Mexican.” That scheme gave way to several other approaches before the current method took hold in 1980. In short, Cardozo would have had no “Hispanic” box to check — and thus no official way of identifying himself as Hispanic. So, by the ever shifting laws of the land, Sotomayor would indeed appear to be the first Hispanic nominated to the high court. Case closed!

Live-blogging Philadelphia’s 2010 Census hearing…

Monday, May 11th, 2009

12:57 – 25 people at this meeting…poor turnout…90% work for the Census Bureau…Sen. Carper not here…will it start on time?

1:04 – Sen. Carper doing introductions…he shook my hand and introduced himself earlier.

1:05 – Sen. Carper discussing stats about 1.4 million Americans working for Census Bureau (largest peacetime hiring effort)

1:06 -  6 million people missed in 2000 count. 1.3 million people counted twice.

1:07 – Hispanics miscounted 4 times as often as whites in 2000 says Carper

1:08 – Mayor Nutter going to speak…he’s in a rush and has to leave in 10 min.

1:10 – Michael Nutter says Philly will lose $2,300 per person not counted in 2010 Census

1:12 – Challenges for Philly: Locating households, encouraging people to return their forms…accurate address listings from US Postal service very important.

1:13 – Nutter: Master list doesn’t have 56,000 addresses that Philly City Gvnt reviewed and updated for Postal Service

1:15 – Nutter: Afro-Americans disproportionately represented in economically disadvantaged and Latinos in linguistically challenged areas

1:15 – Linguistic issues must be addressed by Census Bureau. INS and deportation issues must be addressed.

1:16 – improve response rate: 1. issue exec order 2. city-wide campaign 3. establish multicultural network

1:17 – Only through raising public consciousness that we can make this work – Nutter says his office will help out.

1:17 – Nutter leaves, Sen. Carper thanks Nutter

1:18- 3 minute video will be shown now…forgot my popcorn

1:19 – This is the same propaganda video stuff that’s available on YouTube on the Census Bureau’s channel…but informative!

1:21 – Still awake, still here…they’re playing sentimental “a photograph, a portrait of hopes and dreams” theme song…is Sen. Carper shedding a tear?

1:23 – De. Congressman Castle talking…discussing differences between allocating $ based on population rather than earmarks and pork legislation etc.

1:26 – Boring Del. Congressman Castle talking about why people don’t respond…this is called preaching to the choir, everyone here works for the Census Bureau

1:30 – Now Mayor Baker of Wilmington is speaking…making jokes, got no laughs

1:33 – 50% of Wilmington residents live in rented homes…this=bigger problems for counting.

1:34 – Mayor Baker thinks door to door messaging is important…like political campaigns.

1:36 – They make Joe Biden jokes about talking off the cuff…

1:37 – Baker says, “Who cares what Rush Limbaugh and FoxNews think” now that they’re in the minority…

1:38 – Baker makes more jokes and finishes his statement. Back to Sen. Carper…

1:39 – Philadelphia Managing Director Camille Cates Barnett is speaking…really sad story about her: http://www.kyw1060.com/pages/1430697.php?

1:40 – Barnett: Census data helps draw City Council districts…she cites 2007 Brookings study – $377 billion allocated based on 2010 Census

1:41 – Barnett: For every person we miss counting, $2,263 in funding lost…

1:44 – Barnett whips out 1 page strategic plan for Philly census…

1:45 – Add 75,000 residents in the next 5-10 years=Goal for City of Philly

1:46 – Since 2000 Philly has added 22,000 converted housing units…56,000 additional addressees have been handed over to Census Bureau from Philly.

1:48 – Economic downturn=people get displaced…complicates counting process.

1:49 – Only 23% of AfroAmerican Philadelphians have high school diplomas and 13% have college degrees.

1:52- Barnett repeats every single thing Mayor Nutter already said…eyelids shutting…

1:53 – Barnett finished with positive message…back to Sen. Tom Carper

1:55 – Carper asks Barnett what she learned from 1990 and 2000 Census.

1:56 – Barnett says major issue in previous Census operations=accurately ensuring population growth is properly recorded

1:59 – Congressman Castle talking about working with clergy…he references US Marshalls getting ministers to have criminals confess.

2:01 – Castle asks if clergy can be of help to get people out…Barnett talks about faith-based groups for outreach.

2:03 – Congressman Castle asks how landlords can help w/ Census. He admits he doesn’t know the legality of this.

2:05 – yadda yadda yadda – hopefully MyTwoCensus gets to ask some HARD-HITTING QUESTIONS. EVERYONE is falling asleep (woman next to me)

2:13- Carper’s aide just passed him a note…he’s now ending with Barnett and Baker…maybe abruptly ending mtg?

2:16 – New panel now on the Dais — Tom Mesoundbourg (acting Census Director) speaking…invoking founding fathers. Also on the Dais now: - Pat Coulter, Executive Director, Philadelphia Urban League

- Norman Bristol-Colon, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, State of Pennsylvania

- Wanda M. Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware

2:20 – Mesounbourg LIES! he says operations are going smoothly and address canvassing in philly almost done! – (THE INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT FROM MAY 09 DISAGREES) READ THE MOST RECENT UPDATE: http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/census_bureau/

2:25: Mesounbourg concludes “Our operations are not intended to count many of us, they are intended to count all of us.”

2:26 – Norman Bristol Colon now talking…he has a heavy Latino accent…hard to understand!

2:27 – More Puerto Ricans living in USA than in Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

2:30 – Colon urges Census Bureau to have a plan to count undocumented and documented residents in the same way and counts EVERYONE.

2:31 – Colon insists that Census data remains private and is not released to the INS or other immigration officials.

2:33 – This is pretty much turning into a pro-immigration rally…Colon passionately speaking…only 20 people remain in the room here.

2:34 – Colon says that redistricting will help Latino populations so they can have more representation in gvnt.

2:36 – Colon finished speaking…now hearing from Pat Coulter, head of Urban League Philly – Urban League and Census Bureau have worked together since 1970.

2:37 – Coulter just quoted Dick Polman, my journalism Professor at Penn!

2:38 – Here’s the article Coulter quoted from: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/americandebate/Head_counts_and_head_cases.html

2:42 – Coulter finished speaking, now last but not least, Wanda Lopez, Executive Director, Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic Affairs, State of Delaware

2:46 – Wanda Lopez is very well spoken, but unfortunately no new information added.

2:49 – Congressman Castle asking questions then “calling it a day” as Sen. Carper put it.

2:53 – Congressman Castle asks if celebrities can do public announcements to promote the Census…Director Mesenbourg says the Bureau is pursuing this.

2:54 – Mesenbourg says a PR firm has been hired to do this…which firm is this? Coulter mentions Oprah as possible spokeswoman.

2:55 – Wanda Lopez suggests using local radio in addition to ads on Univision.

2:56 – Castle thanks panel. Carper ending mtg. now…NO HARD-HITTING ISSUES ADDRESSED!

2:57 – Carper says President and First Lady and possibly Sasha and Malia could be used to promote 2010 Census…Wondering: Will they be counted in Chicago or DC?

2:58 – Carper acknowledges problems with handheld computers and asks Mesenbourg to weigh in on correction of problems.

2:59 – Mesenbourg: Handheld only used for address canvassing NOT the non-response follow-up operation in May 2010. Too risky to do that he says

3:01 – 8 million addresses given to Census Bureau from state/local gvnts says Mesenbourg

3:02 – “introduced risk mitigation strategies” – aka 5 different strategies to reduce risk for address canvassing…

3:03 – Mesenbourg says in this economy only 12% of hired applicants didnt show up once they were hired.

3:03 – This explains why we are so far aheadin our address canvassing operation…”highly skilled work force” enables us to finish operation earlier than planned.

3:04 – Carper addresses the Inspector General’s report from earlier to Mesenbourg about failures that we mentioned earlier (top article on http://www.oig.doc.gov/oig/reports/census_bureau/)

3:05 – Mesenbourg acknowledges that in 6 out of 15 locations that Inspector General visited, the Census Bureau employees were not following orders.

3:06 – Mesenbourg deflects the criticism that Carper addressed — saying that all employees received a text message on their handhelds to follow procedures more closely.

3:08 – Sen. Carper asks more hard-hitting questions (finally)! Impressed that he addressed these issues, though not satisfied w/ responses…

3:13 – Closing statements from Castle and Carper before they “call it a day.”

3:14 – Carper quotes Richard Nixon: “The only people who don’t make mistakes are the people who don’t do anything.”

3:15 – Carper says his office was originally worried about lack of technology used in this headcount, but his fears have now been alleviated.

3:17 – Carper thanks everyone who joined us and Census Bureau staff. Carper quotes Lamar Alexander “hearings should be called talkings.”