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 ‘Puerto Rico’

Legal troubles for the 2010 Census in Guam

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

People forget that the 2010 Census includes Guam, Puerto Rico, and other American territories. We will be looking into whether these matters have anything to do with Washington DC. Here’s some info from PacificNewsCenter.com:

Guam – Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Barrett-Andersen has ruled that GovGuam’s award of a phone service contract to Pacific Data Systems [PDS] violated GovGuam procurement law.

In her decision, Barrett-Andersen also states that GTA should have been awarded the contract because it was the only responsive bidder, and she concluded that GTA is entitled to collect reasonable costs for the expenses its incured in protesting of the award.

Read the Court’s Decision

However, the Judge let the contract award to PDS stand and denied GTA’s request for a permanent injunction because she found that the contract is in the best interest of the Territory.  ”There are only 4 months remaining to complete the Census … any disruption … of the telecommunications system currently in operation for the 2010 Census would be detrimental.”

The decision is another indictment of the troubled GovGuam procurement process. Judge Barrett-Andersen found fault with both the General Services Agency [GSA], which was responsible for awarding the bid, and PDS.

“PDS’s did not meet the IFB specifications,” she writes.

And GSA was criticised for “accepting the lowest bidder based on considerations outside the precise language of the bid specifications.” The Judge called that “an anti-competitive practice.” The Judge scolded the agency writing “The Government must be wary of the temptations associated with a focus on the lowest bid price .. GSA cannot abdicate its duties and responsibilities as the guardian of the public trust in the procurement process.”

GTA bid  $37,388 to provide a digital control system with 35 digital handsets. PDS submitted a bid for $23,069 which included a digital control system with 35 “analog” handsets.

PDS released the following statement in response to the Judges order:


Guam Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Barrett-Andersen has rendered her decision in Case No. 0050‐10, denying GTA’s claims in the case
and affirming the award to Pacific Data Systemsby the Government of Guam General Services Agency (GSA).

Judge Barrett‐Andersen’s  Decision  and  Order  also  lifted  the  temporary restraining order previously granted to GTA by the Court.  In a related
earlier decision, the Court also approved a Stipulation entered into by, GTA and the Government of Guam wherein all allegations made by GTA
against PDS of bad faith or misrepresentations were dropped.

The case involved a Bid Protest and formal Complaint filed by GTA against the Government of Guam and PDS alleging the award by GSA to PDS of a bid for telephone  services and  equipment to the Census Bureau  Office  had  been  wrongfully  made.   Judge  Barrett‐Andersen  denied  GTA’s  request  to  have  the award  and  contract  to  PDS  set  aside  and  a  subsequent  award  of  the  contract  made  to  GTA.   Judge Barrett‐Andersen chose to make no ruling on the facts presented by PDS during the hearing regarding the failure of the GTA bid to meet the Government’s bid requirements.

PDS President, John Day, issued the following statement regarding the final resolution of this issue, ”It is unfortunate that so much time and effort had to be consumed responding to GTA’s allegations in order to achieve  official  affirmation  of  this Bid  Award  from  the  Court.   It  is  now  clear  to  all  that  PDS’  bid represented the best solution to meet the Government’s requirements.

Testimony presented by Census Office  officials  during  the  Court  hearings  provided  undisputed  endorsement  of  the  PDS  solution  and highly credible evidence that the PDS system does indeed meet all requirements of the Census office and is doing so at a significant to the Government”.

Decimated Tribe Seeks Recognition Through 2010 Census

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

A great feature and 2010 Census feel-good story from Lidia Crafts of Voice of America News:

A people thought to be dead for 500 years hope to prove they’re still very much alive, thanks to the 2010 census.

The census counts everyone in the United States, including territories like Puerto Rico. Thousands of Puerto Ricans are rediscovering their indigenous heritage and plan to ensure that the U.S. government knows about them.

On a blustery day at the Texas state capital building in Austin, members of the Taino tribe rally to raise awareness about the 2010 U.S. census. Dr. Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard leads the group in song. She’s the tribe’s tequina suania, meaning she directs and teaches ceremonial dances to Tainos in the United States.

The Tainos greeted Columbus when he arrived on what is now the island of Hispanola.

Decimated tribe

She explains that the Tainos greeted Christopher Columbus when he landed in the New World in 1492, but the Spanish conquistadors who followed him decimated the tribe. Some Tainos managed to survive by fleeing to the mountains. But in the 1800s, Spain stopped counting indigenous people in the census of its colonies.

Tekina-eirú Maynard says that stripped thousands of full-blooded Tainos of their identity. “If you happened to be a Taino who lived up in the mountains and you weren’t in the sun a lot and maybe your skin was a little lighter, then they threw you in the ‘white’ bucket.”

Today, most history books say the Tainos were wiped out 50 years after the Spanish explorers arrived. After hundreds of years of mainstream thought that taught them the Tainos were dead, many Puerto Ricans forgot about their native ancestry.

Tainos like Tekina-eirú Maynard see the 2010 U.S. census as their chance to finally prove the history books are wrong.

“We are survivors,” she says. “We are part of the people who went into the mountains to survive when the conquistadores were massacring our people.”

Ana Maria Tekina-Eiru Maynard

Some Puerto Ricans plan to identify themselves as ‘Tainos’ in the 2010 US Census.

DNA link to the past

In 2000, a study funded by the National Science Foundation revealed that more than 60 percent of Puerto Ricans have Taino blood.

The chief, or Cacike, of the Tainos in Puerto Rico, said that study awakened a Taino consciousness in the Puerto Rican people. “The results showed that in every Puerto Rican, Taino blood runs in our veins.”

Following the study, Puerto Ricans from across the island and many living on the mainland had their DNA tested by submitting samples of their saliva. Many began to identify themselves as Taino, and they started working to restore their traditions by studying the stories passed down by their grandparents.

The Cacike’s wish now is for all Puerto Ricans to regain pride in their native heritage.

“Our history was written with Taino blood. The conquest cost the lives of three million people. Our beliefs were taken from us, and beliefs were imposed upon us at the point of sword and cannon. Today we are free,” he says. “We believe as our ancestors believed. And we know our spirituality is genuine. It’s true, like the light of the sun. It’s so true it’s like the wind. You cannot see it, but you can feel it.”

Seeking official recognition

Although thousands of people now identify as Taino, the tribe has yet to receive official government recognition or the federal benefits that accompany it. So Tekina-eirú Maynard was excited to learn about questions added to the 2010 census that will allow them to declare their indigenous heritage on paper.

Rene Renteria

Mario Garza speaks about the census at a pow-wow in Texas.

That is what Maria Rocha and Dr. Mario Garza are urging Latinos to do. The couple runs the Indigenous Cultures Institute, a Texas-based nonprofit that works to preserve native traditions.

Garza explains that on previous census forms, Latinos could only claim their race as ‘white’ or ‘non-white’. “We’re trying to educate these people that even if they identify as Hispanic, they still come from a very rich heritage and cultural background which is their indigenous part.”

The Indigenous Cultures Institute has been sponsoring pow-wows around Texas to urge Hispanics with Taino heritage to complete the 10 questions on the 2010 census form.

Rocha and Garza tell members of their audience they can still recognize their Latin American heritage on question 8, which addresses ethnicity. Question 9 is the one that asks about race. Rocha and Garza tell Latinos to check their race as ‘American Indian’ and to write in their tribal affiliation in the space provided. That’s where Puerto Ricans can identify themselves as ‘Tainos.’

Rocha says her group’s census campaign has also resonated with Latinos of other indigenous backgrounds across the U.S.

“People have a need to be out there and do something important for their ancestors,” she observes, “not just register with the government or tick off themselves as a number. This has some significance to our people.”

Ana Maria Tekina-Eiru Maynard

Ana Maria Tekina-Eiru Maynard participates in a ceremony in Puerto Rico.

Putting a people back into the history books

When Dr. Ana Maria Tekina-eirú Maynard learned how she could identify herself as Taino on the census, she sent an email explaining the process to 5,000 members of her tribe.

“There will be thousands of Tainos who will check the box and write the word Taino,” she says. “And I can’t wait until the census is done and all of this happens.”

At the Puerto Rican Cultural Center in Austin, she and her family practice aretos, or songs for ceremonial dances. Tekina-eirú Maynard wrote the songs and believes they were inspired by her ancestors. “I would sit on my back porch and these songs would just sort of come to me,” she says.

Proud heritage

Her 13-year-old son, William plays a traditional drum that Tainos from Puerto Rico made for him.

He says playing the aretos brings him closer to his indigenous heritage. “This is a very native, very pure thing, which, especially for me, I have a connection to this. It’s really like you can feel it in your heart.”

Tekina-eirú Maynard says the best thing about reconnecting with her Taino ancestry is that she can finally help her family understand their origins.

“I feel like I am putting my family back on track. After 500 years — that they had gone to the mountains to hide and hid so well that they forgot who they were — I feel that I have a chance now to put my family back to where they belong. And you have no idea how meaningful that is to me.”

That’s why Dr. Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard says she will continue raising the voice of the people until every history book says the Tainos are still here.

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!