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Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Holding the US Census ransom to force action on reforming immigration is a bad idea

Holding the US Census ransom to force action on reforming immigration is a bad idea

LatinaLista — The frustration level of Rev. Miguel Rivera, chairman of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, over Congress’ inaction on reforming immigration policy is understandable.
It’s a frustration shared by many in the Latino community who want to see the undocumented who have lived in this country for years, planted roots, contributed to their local communities and worked hard to provide for their families get their citizenship status resolved so they don’t have to live in fear of the federal government.
Maybe that explains the tactic of Rev. Rivera, who basically wants to the hold the government’s ability to take a census of the number of people who are living in the U.S., hostage.
He has called for a boycott of the U.S. Census by all undocumented immigrants. By law, under the Constitution, the census must count everyone living in the country — legally or illegally — once every 10 years.
The fear being promoted by Rivera and others who are trying to coerce the undocumented into not participating is the threat that the information supplied to Census workers would be handed over to federal Homeland Security agents who would then track down, arrest and deport those living in the country illegally.
Not true!

Census workers do not share information about any individual with other government agencies. Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said Thursday that the vow of confidentiality all census workers take is a “sacred oath” that, if broken, is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

We have only to look at past Census campaigns to know that no information was shared and no one was deported as a result of filling out the forms. However, this doesn’t “fit” with Rivera’s scare rhetoric.
The irony isn’t lost on those of us who are able to see Rivera’s actions for what they are: While his intention is honorable, his methods are not and, in his own way, he’s exerting the same kind of fear and manipulation over this vulnerable population that he accuses the federal government of doing.
That’s why the Latino community has banded together to fight back.


Today, the media component of a nationwide Spanish-language campaign called “Ya es hora. ?Hagase contar!” or “It’s time to make yourself count,” was launched. Spanish-language television and newspapers will run messages explaining the importance of participating in the Census.

The Telemundo television network will cast a soap opera with a character who is a census worker. Another Spanish-language network, Univision, will broadcast a 30-minute program in late March in which viewers are guided step-by-step through the process of filling out their forms. Public service announcements will feature pro-census messages from well-known news anchors, sports announcers, judges and gossip columnists.
The various programs involve donated time. The Census Bureau will pay for some ads to run on the networks and in various Spanish-language papers.

All this extra effort to combat the misguided advice Rivera is delivering may have already served its purpose.
AOL Latino is reporting that they received an exclusive interview with Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva who said that before the end of October, he and his colleagues were going to present a proposal to Congress regarding immigration reform to start pressuring the Congress to act on it.
According to Grijalva, the proposal would contain all the main points of what is wanted in any immigration reform measure: addressing the needs of DREAM Act students, granting wide legalization and implementing measures to limit the separation of families.
Ultimately, Grijalva said, it’s up to the Senate to see if they have the political will but the Arizona congressman said that he, along with his Latino colleagues in the Congress, are tired of waiting.
“The measure will be presented jointly with the support of the Hispanic Caucus and the Democratic legislator Luis Guitérrez, who is tired of waiting and whose counterpart in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, has decided to present a joint proposal.”
Regardless of what does or doesn’t happen in Congress before the end of the year with immigration reform, it is still a disservice to the greater Latino community, and the nation, to have the undocumented not participate in the US Census.
In fact, it is one of the only ways that any person who longs to be a citizen of this country can actually feel like they are.

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Comment(12)

  • Avatar
    cookie
    October 1, 2009 at 6:56 pm

    I think it terribly wrong that certain states get unfair representation in congress by counting non-citizens and especially those in our country illegally. Only citizens should get representation.
    Based on that a boycott by them would be the best thing that could happen for Americans.
    No one is an American unless they have citizenship papers no matter that they “feel” they are.
    How in the world is it a disservice to the Latino community by not counting those in our country illegally on the census? It is a disservice to all Americans to count them IMO and that needs to change.

  • Avatar
    Texan123
    October 2, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Can anyone please explain how reform will stop illegal immigration?
    How will we pursue those who will not or can not apply for legal status? How can Americans feel confident that proper background checks will be done? What measures will be put in place to make sure that visa holders return to their home country when their visa expires.
    Some of the 9/11 hijackers and the recent Dallas bomb attempt, resulted from expired visa holders. How many more people who hate America will gain legal status?
    First we need to close the loopholes that allow career criminals to use false identity documents. This goes on daily in our country. It is FRAUD. Any idea how many criminals will use false ID to apply for legal status?

  • Avatar
    Zamanthia
    October 2, 2009 at 11:56 am

    It is a very narrow-minded position to state that only citizens need to be counted in the census, the purpose of a census is to reflect in the most accurate way, a region’s characteristics and how it affects all social, economic, cultural and political spheres. Everyone gets benefited with a comprehensive census. I bet that everyone that participates within “the system” finds the census’ information pretty useful to provide services, sell products, etc. Stop living in your bubbles people, travel, get to know people from other nation of origin and be part of a truly democratic state.

  • Avatar
    Candy
    October 2, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    There is no defense against the argument that communities with large populations of illegal immigrants would benefit unfairly from the census. I fail to understand how this does justice to the citizens of this country. Are Latinos so desperate or lacking in integrity that they have to resort to subterfuge to advance their agenda? It’s no wonder that they are looked upon with suspicion by other ethnic groups and races. Do I have the sound of silence, Marisa?

  • Avatar
    cookie
    October 3, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Zamantha, did you not read my post how it is unfair to give non-citizens representation in our government? That is what is happening by counting those in our country illegally. Certain districts with a large population of those in our country illegally are getting extra and unfair representation in congress. They can’t even vote so why should they get reprsentation in our government?
    We already have millions of Hispanic “citizens in this country so where is this diversity you feel we are missing out on?
    Part of being a democracy is also being a nation of laws. Without that we would have chaos and in view of the millions here without authorization it is becoming a chaos.

  • Avatar
    jorge
    October 3, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Zamantha, you state that “the purpose of a census is to reflect in the most accurate way, a region’s characteristics and how it affects all social, economic, cultural and political spheres. This is not true, but only liberal invention. There is only one mandatory use for the Census under our laws and that is stated in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The 14th directs that the census will be used to determine the number of members of the U .S. House of Representatives from each state. Additionally, the data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau are used by the states to draw boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts, and by local governments to establish districts for other representative bodies such as county legislatures, city councils, and boards of supervisors. Only with the advent of welfare America did census data also become used to allocate federal and state funding and services. In a color blind America, there should be no need for any racial or ethnic information to be collected. And I suspect that any law requiring this would not sustain scrutiny by SCOTUS.
    How can anyone in good conscience assert that that it be used to give congressional representation to undocumented immigrants, when it was clearly meant to benefit the constituencies of Congress, the citizens of this country? In an ideal America, there should be no undocumented immigrants.
    While diversity may be a good goal for this country, there is no Constitutional requirement to achieve it.

  • Avatar
    Zamanthia
    October 3, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Census need to count EVERYONE who resides in a country, city, state, etc. It benefits EVERYBODY, to those who are citizens and those who aren’t as well, moreover if they are producing GDP and giving labor, that’s how America works right?
    It is a human right to have a voice and be represented, that is democracy.

  • Avatar
    laura
    October 4, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Interesting how anti-immigrant posters want to uphold the laws when excluding people here without visas, but do not want to uphold the law that says all residents must be counted in a census. The bottom line: for people like the posters above, the intention is to exclude immigrants who don’t speak English and are not white. That’s all. Laws have nothing to do with it.

  • Avatar
    laura
    October 4, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    After what we have seen, and are seeing, with the health care process, I would prefer that these Congressmen not introduce any bills right now. I am very skeptical of the good intentions of the Obama administration. If they had good intentions, why are we seeing no change in detentions, deportations, expanded (!)287 g cooperation between local police and ICE, deaths on the border, and the only change with raids is that now they have become virtual employer raids. A terrible example: American Apparel in Los Angeles, which is not a low-wage, exploitative employer, yet is being forced to lay off 1400 people.
    Why are the brutal policies of the Bush administration, which were never based on new legislation but just on their executive say-so, being continued?
    If comprehensive immigration reform is attempted, will it proceed the way health reform is proceeding – with Rahm Emanuel swearing at people who actually want to protect patients from exorbitant charges and from being denied the care they need?
    I believe we need to unite behind a moratorium first. Let’s see whether there are any actual good intentions there in this administration. Since they can issue executive orders for environmental protection (which I applaud), why is it we are seeing nothing of the like to protect immigrants?
    If any bills actually proceed, we may very well end up much worse off than before. These Congressmen are not being wise or careful, in my opinion.

  • Avatar
    Traci
    October 5, 2009 at 11:27 am

    “Why are the brutal policies of the Bush administration, which were never based on new legislation but just on their executive say-so, being continued?”
    Actually, the round-ups and deportations are fully grounded in the law. The round-ups were based upon investigations that resulted in the discovery that people were employed illegally. Yours is nothing more that a minority group’s demand that the laws be nullified for political purposes. You have no basis in the law to prevent ICE from doing the job that it’s required to due under our statutes. And considering that there is no uprising on the part of the rest of the citizenry, it is apparently their will to continue to enforce the law, and Congress apparently believes this to be the case, because they haven’t acted in your favor.
    “If comprehensive immigration reform is attempted, will it proceed the way health reform is proceeding – with Rahm Emanuel swearing at people who actually want to protect patients from exorbitant charges and from being denied the care they need?”
    CIR has the chance of a snow flake in hell, especially when the math is done on how much it will cost the rest of us to subsidize the illegal alien’s half of the health care bill.
    “I believe we need to unite behind a moratorium first.”
    The only legal basis for such a moritorium is an act of Congress, as that won’t happen.
    “Let’s see whether there are any actual good intentions there in this administration. Since they can issue executive orders for environmental protection (which I applaud), why is it we are seeing nothing of the like to protect immigrants?”
    Because there are laws on the books against illegal immigration, and the President is already in hot water with every issue that he’s been involved with, including health care. He’s the president, not the dictator that you’d empower him to be.
    “If any bills actually proceed, we may very well end up much worse off than before. These Congressmen are not being wise or careful, in my opinion.”
    Apparently Latinos don’t have as much powere to dicatate to congress or the president that they believe themselves to have. Your self perceive importance will be your undoing.

  • Avatar
    Marisa Treviño
    October 6, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Traci, I don’t think the demand for the laws to be nullified actually have anything to do with politics than basic human decency. It’s a step in the right direction to go after the employers but with mixed-status families that is putting a lot more people at risk for homelessness and hunger. The best thing to do is to put a moratorium on these raids and wait for Congress to do something about immigration reform. The continuation of the Bush policy, that seems only to appease the right wingnuts in this country, because poll after poll shows most Americans don’t care if undocumented immigrants are caught or not, is a relic of an administration that was truly a veiled dictatorship that history will reveal in time. To defend the gross miscarriage of justice that was carried out under the Bush administration time and time again says as much about your motives for attacking Obama than your desire to see him succeed.

  • Avatar
    cookie
    October 6, 2009 at 9:38 am

    But both the employers and the illegal workers are equally guilty so why just go after the employers? Sounds like bias to me and selective justice according to our laws.
    Mixed status families have brought this on themselves. Since when are families immune to justice?
    I’d sure like to see these poll results where the stats claim that the majority of Americans don’t care if illegals are caught or not.
    What you are proposing is punish the employers but don’t punish the employees because some time in the future the employees might get off the hook. Well we may as well not go after the employers either then because if the employees might get off the hook then it would only be fair that the employers do also! Sorry, but they both need to be punish according to the laws that are in place NOW.

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