Latino Church Groups Battle Over Census

By Jacqueline L. Salmon There’s a nasty scuffle underway between two major Hispanic Christian organizations over whether illegal immigrants should … Continued

By Jacqueline L. Salmon
There’s a nasty scuffle underway between two major Hispanic Christian organizations over whether illegal immigrants should cooperate with next year’s U.S. Census.

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, an immigrants’ rights group, is urging them to boycott the Census until Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform. The Rev. Miguel A. Rivera told the Post’s Ed O’Keefe that he and other church leaders are concerned that the data could be used against illegal immigrants and their families. Rivera alleged that the data has been misused but was unable to cite specific cases.

But the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference has jumped in, urging undocumented workers to fill out those forms.

“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,” said the Rev. Wilfredo De Jesus, vice president of social justice for the group, in a recent statement.

Members of Congress are trying to resolve the issue. Last week Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay, chair of the House subcommittee on information policy, Census and National Archives, and Rep. Michael Honda, Chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, invited Rivera and his allies meet with them in a bid to assure them that participating in the census is safe for immigrants.

This kind of fight is the Census Bureau’s worse nightmare. It already faces on uphill climb with Hispanics. Its research has found that many Hispanics “believe answers can be used against them,” said Frank A. Vitrano, a division chief at the bureau who oversees planning and coordination for the 2010 count. Indeed, while 77.5 percent of whites returned their census forms without need for follow-up during the last census, according to Census data, only 59.7 percent of blacks and 64.5 percent of Hispanics and 69.9 percent of Asians did so.

To combat fears of the Census, the Census Bureau plans to devote $250 million of its $1 billion in stimulus funding to encourage greater participation among hard-to-count population–about $70 million devoted exclusively to Asian, black or Hispanic media outlets.

  • salero21

    It’s kind of amuses from the real issues, the concerns of the “Latino” clergy. It is typical of their confusion about who they are. I am a Hispanic myself. But the term “Latino” and it’s implications, have over the years run parallel with some dubious behavior. Usually I have seen the use of the term mostly as an insinuation of racial bias. First of all, there’s never been a “race” or a true ethnic group or nation with a name that could have given rise to that definition. Most of these people that over the years have use the term to self describe themselves; to my knowledge. Neither speak, read, write or are able to translate to or from the Latin language. Give them a document in Latin and see how many can even read it. The true Latins if any left, would be the Italians and their direct descendants, and they don’t seem to be worried about any census. Another notable thing among these self proclaimed “latinos” as I have observed over many years. They appear to be completely ignorant of the fact that the Brazilians could also be considered as such. But again “latins” is not a proven race or ethnicity. I have heard many times the claim that is because the language. I have observed for many years though that the same, completely ignore the fact. That among the languages that allegedly derived from Latin; the Romanian is considered one of them by linguists. So now we have, two really argueable facts and no just mere allegations, fantabulous claims or rhetoric. First, the Romanian language evolved also from Latin. Second, that the Brazilians, could also or should also be included among the “Latinos” if any are around. Remember Helio Castroneves in DWTS! He was asked if being Latin would help his dancing.The Coalition of “Latino” clergy I think imho need to get over themselves and start talking, preaching, living according to a true Paradigm instead of superfluous labels like “latinos”.But of course, who cares? Is only my opinion.

  • mytwocensus1

    For more 2010 Census-related news and investigative reports, please check out, the watchdog blog of the 2010 Census.

  • WmarkW

    The census doesn’t ask whether you’re a citizen, legal alien or illegally resident. And law enforcement agencies don’t get to look at individual census data, only published aggregates that say what neighborhoods have Hispanics living in them.It would be hard to design an INS raid around that.