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.
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. RaÃºl 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 GuitÃ©rrez, 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.