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A call by some Latino pastors this month to boycott the 2010 Census, unless immigration reform passes, could have dramatic and undesired consequences.
That is why the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, and a range of national Latino advocacy organizations are speaking out in support of full Latino participation in the Census.
While the impetus of the proposed boycott centers on urging Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform, the endgame could indeed be disastrous, if it means that Latinos and their families are not counted in 2010.
An article in the Washington Post today countered claims that Census information might be wielded to pinpoint and arrest individuals who are in the United States illegally or whose family members are undocumented, a concern cited by the boycott’s leader:
While he alleged that state and local governments have unfairly interpreted census data to target or marginalize immigrant groups, Rivera could not cite specific documented examples of federal manipulation or improper sharing, which is prohibited by law and punishable with fines and up to five years in prison, according to Census Bureau spokesman Stephen Buckner.
In addition, the nation’s largest Hispanic Christian organization today called for all to be counted by the census. In a press statement, Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus, Vice President of Social Justice for the organization, argued for community participation this way:
The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and the Jesse Miranda Center for Hispanic Christian Leadership believe that Latinos, regardless of faith or legal status, should participate in the 2010 U.S. Census.
For our communities, the benefits of participating in the census are essential to accurate representation, allocation of resources, and to gauge how our community continues to grow. The clear majority of Latino advocacy and faith organizations support the efforts of the U.S. Census Bureau to count each person in America in 2010, including the traditionally undercounted Hispanic population.
Here’s the deal: Latino communities deserve to be counted in our nation’s Census.
Any effort to block them from doing so, no matter how well-intentioned, should raise serious red flags for those concerned about making sure all of our communities receive full representation and vital resources.