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New York Times, New Website Reveal How To Waste Money And Ruin the Census

by Jacquelyn Mahendra on 10/20/2009 at 4:03pm

vitterWe’ve been reporting for some time now on Senator David Vitter (R-LA) and his divisive campaign to pass an amendment that would bar undocumented immigrants from participating in the census.

The New York Times has a must-read editorial today called, “How to Waste Money and Ruin the Census,” which lays out why, exactly, this is such a terrible idea:

As required by law, the Census Bureau gave Congress the exact wording of the survey’s 10 questions in early April 2008 — more than 18 months ago. Changing it now to meet Mr. Vitter’s demand would delay the count, could skew the results and would certainly make it even harder to persuade minorities to participate.

It would also be hugely expensive. The Commerce Department says that redoing the survey would cost hundreds of millions of dollars: to rewrite and reprint hundreds of millions of census forms, to revise instructional and promotional material and to reprogram software and scanners.

In other words, it ain’t gonna be cheap, gentlemen.

And it’s not going to be fair, either — especially when it comes to allocating resources to states with split-status populations.

Would Sen. Vitter be happy if we just counted 3/5ths of the immigrants in our country, maybe?

Today, national civil rights organizations joined NDN for a press conference in Washington, DC. They report in “Leading Civil Rights Groups Join NDN to Oppose Divisive Vitter-Bennett Amendment:”

Tuesday, October 20th at 11 am in Dirksen 406, the nation’s leading civil rights groups will join NDN for a press conference on Capitol Hill to announce their opposition to the divisive Vitter-Bennett Amendment aimed at undermining the 2010 Census. The Amendment, proposed by Senators David Vitter (R-LA) and Robert Bennett (R-UT), seeks to add an 11th question to the census forms (which have already been printed) that would discourage minority populations from participating in the census and thus threaten the accuracy of the count.

In his letter to Senators urging them to vote “no” on the proposed Amendment, NDN President Simon Rosenberg wrote, 

While the  Vitter-Bennett Amendment may appear innocent, its intent and practical effect on the  census and reapportionment process is not. If enacted the Amendment would almost certainly disrupt an orderly census count next year, eventually found to be unconstitutional, all the while start ing a highly divisive  conversation about race, the Civil War and the 14th Amendment in the  very first year of America’s very first African-American President.

Now there’s even a brand new website “Don’t Wreck the Census” up about the battle, which urges action:

Call your Senator right now and tell them to to vote “NO” on Senate Amendment 2644. 

The real truth behind Vitter’s amendment?

Anti-immigrant legislators like Vitter are willing to compromise the accuracy of the census in their obsessive efforts to inject an anti-immigrant agenda into every conceivable realm of public life. But the real policy ramifications are endless. If passed, this amendment would stop the 2010 Census dead in its tracks–preventing the questionnaire forms from being mailed next spring and wasting over $7 billion in research, planning, and preparation that has occurred for Census 2010. And of course, it would discourage millions of immigrants from participating in the 2010 Census–potentially costing hundreds of billions in lost funding to local communities and diminishing the political power of states like Texas, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Florida and Nevada with large immigrant populations.

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