From Mobilize the Immigrant Vote!
Prepared by Ilene Jacobs and Rachel Hoerger for California Rural Legal Assistance, January 25, 2010. In acknowledgement of The California Endowment and The Irvine Foundation for their support of CRLA Census outreach activities.
What is the Census?
The Census is a complete count of everyone living in the U.S. The Census takes place every 10 years and serves as a mirror of our community, reflecting who and how many we are and what our communities look like. The information gathered during the Census is used to make decisions that can benefit your family and community and affect your everyday lives, including in the following ways:
- Distribute over $400 billion in federal funding each year to local communities
- Make local planning decisions regarding social services and infrastructure
- Enforce civil rights and prevent discrimination
Why does it matter?
Participating in the Census means that you are reflected in the mirror of America, and your family’s needs are taken into consideration by the people who make decisions about your community. Census data is used to provide important services in the community, such as:
Schools *Hospitals *Roads *Job training
Affordable housing *School lunches *Public transportation
Bilingual education *Emergency services
Census data also is used to prevent discrimination and enforce civil rights in education, employment, fair housing and social service. When everyone is counted, your community can receive the resources it needs and deserves.
Who is counted in the Census?
The Census counts EVERYONE who is living in the United States around Census Day, April 1. The Census counts everyone regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The Census counts people of all ages, including newborn babies and senior citizens. When completing your Census questionnaire, be sure to count everyone living in your home at the time, even they are not related to you and/or are living with you temporarily. Complete participation in the Census is the first step toward gaining equal rights and resources for everyone in the community.
What happens if I am not counted?
Your community could lose $1600 per person every year, for the next 10 years for every person who does not complete and return a Census questionnaire. You may lose access to important services and programs that your family depends on, and remain invisible to the people who make important decisions that affect the well-being of your family. The Census only happens once every 10 years, so these losses and inequalities can last until 2020.
How do I participate?
Census questionnaires will be mailed out in March, and many people will receive their Census questionnaire in the mail at home. You should complete and return a mailed form as soon as possible, and make sure to include every person who is currently staying in the home, even if they are not related to you or are living there temporarily. If you do not receive a questionnaire by mail, or if someone in the house was not included on your form, additional Be Counted questionnaires and Questionnaire Assistance Centers will be available in various locations throughout the community. People who do not have a home and have not been counted can complete a Be Counted form and indicate the location where they usually stay. A Census taker may come to the house in some areas where questionnaires do not get mailed out and/or when a household doesn’t return the Census questionnaire. The Census Bureau also does a special count for people in shelters and outdoor locations in the end of March.
What if I do not understand the questionnaire or need help in completing it?
Completing the questionnaire can still be a challenge, especially for people who do not speak English or who do not read and write well. Anyone who does not understand the questionnaire and/or needs assistance in filling it out can call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance line (1-866-872-6868 for English or 1-866-928-2010 for Spanish, beginning February 25) or take it to a Questionnaire Assistance Center once they open in the neighborhood (February 25 – April 19) and someone can assist you in filling out the form in your own language.
Are my answers safe?
Any information that you provide to the Census Bureau is completely safe and confidential. The Census Bureau is prohibited by federal law from giving your information to any other person or branch of government, including Immigration & Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, the IRS, the police, your boss or landlord, or anyone else. Information is used to gain an accurate count of the population, respond to the needs of your community, and produce general statistics. Your personal information is protected by law and cannot be used to identify you or be used against you in any way. All Census employees are prohibited by law from revealing any information and they face harsh penalties (fines of up to $250,000 and/or 5 years in prison) for any violation. Any Census employee who visits you at home will have a badge to identify him/herself and a notice of confidentiality.
1 KEY CENSUS TALKING POINTS – CRLA Census 2010 1. WHY THE CENSUS IS IMPORTANT FOR… Rights, Resources, Representation
INDIVIDUAL – The Census is the most effective way of guaranteeing equal rights, resources, and representation. Participation in the Census can bring essential programs to the community (such as housing, education, medical and emergency services, job training and bilingual programming, among others) by making the community’s needs known to decision makers.
The Census is a mirror of America, and everyone in the community, in California and in the nation should be reflected in that mirror, in all of our rich diversity. Political representation and civil rights enforcement depend on participation in the Census. The Census data are used for apportionment (the number of seats in the House of Representatives), redistricting at the state and local level, and enforcement of voting rights and other laws that protect civil rights and prohibit discrimination.
LOCAL COMMUNITY – Census data is used to allocate over $400 billion per year in federal funds to local communities, to make local planning decisions regarding social services and infrastructure, and to determine political representation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Census data is used in planning where to building new schools, hospitals and clinics, roads, bridges and other public works; as well as in providing job training, social and medical services for women and children, bilingual education and voting programs, affordable housing programs, public transportation services, veterans’ benefits, welfare programs, and emergency services. Census data is also used to prevent discrimination and enforce civil rights in education, employment, fair housing, social services, and voting.
When everyone is counted, the community receives the resources and representation that it truly needs and deserves.
INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY – [See Question 3]
2. WHO IS COUNTED IN THE CENSUS
The Census counts EVERYONE who is living in the United States around Census Day, April 1. The Census counts citizens, non-citizens, and undocumented immigrants, and does NOT ask about your immigration status. The Census counts people of all ages, including newborn babies and senior citizens. When completing your Census questionnaire, be sure to count everyone living in your home at the time, even they are not related to you and/or are living with you temporarily.
3. WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE COUNTED AS INDIGENOUS
Indigenous communities should have the right to equal access to essential services that meet their specific needs – such as programs in their own languages, for example – and to be recognized and counted as indigenous. Participating in the Census is the first step toward ensuring equal rights, resources and representation for indigenous communities, and in important for gaining accurate information about your community.
The Census questionnaire can be complicated and the questions do not accurately represent indigenous communities. There are specific ways to answer the questions on race and Hispanic origin in order to be counted indigenous communities. When the Census asks whether you are of “Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin” (Question 8 for Person 1; Question 5 for others), you should check the box “Yes, Mexican, Mexican Am., Chicano,” even if you consider yourself to be, for example, Mixteco, Triqui, Purepecha, Nahuatl or Zapoteco, rather than Mexican. When the Census asks about your race (Question 9 for Person 1; Question 6 for others), you should check the box “American Indian or Alaska Native,” and then write in the name of your ethnic group in the boxes (eg, Mixteco, Triqui, Purepecha, Nahuatl, Zapoteco). This is not completely accurate and might not seem right, but it is the best way to ensure that the Census Bureau properly counts you as indigenous and gain complete information about the indigenous communities. The Census Bureau is going to consider a new question that might better reflect indigenous communities.
4. WHAT QUESTIONS WILL THE CENSUS ASK
The Census will ask several questions that relate to the entire household, including everyone who is currently staying in the house. It will also ask questions about each individual person living there. It is important to include accurate information about every person who is staying in the house (including babies and children, and all people living there, even if only temporarily), and to remember that all of this information is completely safe and confidential.
Questions for the entire household:
• How many people live in this house?
• Is the house owned or rented?
• Home phone number, in case the Census Bureau doesn’t understand your answer
Questions for each person living in the house:
• Age and date of birth
• Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin
• Does this person sometimes live somewhere else?
5. CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION
The information provided to the Census Bureau is completely safe and confidential. The Census Bureau is prohibited by federal law from giving your information to any other person or branch of government, including Immigration & Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security, the IRS, the police, your boss or landlord, or anyone else. Information is used to produce statistics and to gain an accurate count of everyone who lives in the U.S. and respond to the specific needs of your community. Your personal information is protected by law and cannot be used to identify you or be used against you in any way. All Census employees swear an oath that they will not reveal your information, and they face harsh penalties (fines of up to $250,000 and/or 5 years in prison) if they violate this. Any Census employee who visits people at home will have a badge and notice of confidentiality to identify him/herself.
6. RISK OF NOT PARTICIPATING
The risk of not completing and returning a Census questionnaire is that your community loses out on important benefits, funding and programs, including almost $1200 per year in federal funding for every person who is not counted. Undercounted communities remain invisible to the people who make important decisions that affect the well-being of families and the community, and they can lose political power and the chance to make their heard on other important issues. The Census only happens once every 10 years, so losses and inequalities can last for the next 10 years. Participating in the Census is the first step toward attaining equal rights, resources and representation for the community, but this cannot happen as long as it remains invisible.
7. HOW TO PARTICIPATE
MAILED FORM – The Census is a mail-out/mail-back survey. Many people will receive their Census questionnaire in the mail at home, and some people will receive a bilingual questionnaire in Spanish and English. A questionnaire received by mail should be completed to include every person who is currently staying in the home, even if they are not related to you or are living there temporarily. Anyone who does not understand the questionnaire or needs assistance in filling it out can call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance line (1-866-872-6868 for English or 1- 866-928-2010 for Spanish) or take it to a Questionnaire Assistance Center in the neighborhood where someone can assist you in filling out the form in your own language. The official questionnaire is available in the following languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Russian. There are also language guides in 59 languages available on the census website, 2010.census.gov/partners/materials/inlanguage.php to assist in filling out the questionnaire. Once the questionnaire is completed it should be returned through the mail, but it does not need a stamp.
BE COUNTED FORM – If no Census form arrives in the mail, or if someone was not included in the form, Be Counted Census questionnaires are available in various locations throughout the community. People who do not have a home and have not been counted can complete a Be Counted form and indicate the location where they usually stay. Someone who lives in a trailer in a backyard, or rents a shed, or lives under the porch or in the garage, can complete a Be Counted form and indicate a sub-address, like “apartment A” or “separate garage”. It is very important to describe every address accurately so that the Census can understand where everyone lives.
QUESTIONNAIRE ASSISTANCE CENTERS (QACs) – The Census questionnaire is simpler this year than in previous years and asks fewer questions. Completing the questionnaire can still be a challenge, especially for people who do not speak English or who do not read and write well. There will be Telephone Questionnaire Assistance and various places in the community where the Census Bureau will assist people in filling out the questionnaire in the available languages or by using language assistance guides. There will be a list of QACs available in every area.
CENSUS TAKERS – Census takers will come to the door in some areas where questionnaires do not get mailed out and/or when a household does not return the Census questionnaire.
P.O. BOXES – Census forms are not mailed to post office boxes. Some P.O. Box communities will have questionnaires delivered and some will have enumerators come to the door. P.O. Box communities should contact the Local Census Office (LCO) to make sure that the Census Bureau staff knows where they are.
HARD-TO-LOCATE HOUSING UNITS AND COMPLEX HOUSEHOLDS – Low income individuals and families, migrant and seasonal farmworkers, families displaced by foreclosures, people who are homeless, and others, often live in housing that is difficult to locate, and/or in crowded or unconventional housing. It is very important to ensure that people in hard-tolocate housing and complex households are counted. The Census Bureau needs to know the locations of hidden housing, farm labor camps, areas with hard-to-locate housing units and where complex households reside. Working in partnership with the LCO can help to ensure that people in these households are counted. Giving people the message that everyone in the household needs to be identified, if only by number, is essential to having a complete Census.
8. HISTORIC UNDERCOUNT
Racial and ethnic groups, indigenous people, migrant and seasonal farmworkers, renters, children, recent immigrants, historically are differentially undercounted in the Census. In the 2000 Census, 25-30% of all indigenous people and migrant and seasonal farmworkers did not get counted. That means that their communities lost out on millions of dollars in funding, programs and services that could have benefited their families and their future. Communities have continued to grow and become more diverse in their needs, so this year it is even more critical to ensure that everyone is counted in the Census and that communities do not continue to lose out over the next 10 years.
Census 2010: Have you received your Census Questionnaire?
What is the Census questionnaire?
The Census is required by the U.S. Constitution. It counts everyone living in the United States on April 1, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. The information is used to identify and respond to local needs, and to allocate federal funding and political representation. The information is confidential and is not shared with anyone or any government agency.
Who is counted in the Census?
The Census counts everyone. Make sure that you include everyone who is living or staying with you, including babies, the elderly, non-relatives and people staying with you temporarily or renting a space from you. The Census counts you wherever you are living.
Why is it important to return the questionnaire?
Census data helps to distribute over $400 billion in federal funding each year to states and local communities, determines political representation, and helps to plan and fund local programs that serve your community.
What will the questionnaire ask?
The Census asks 10 questions for each person staying where you live: how many people live in the household, whether you own or rent your home, your telephone number, your name, sex, age & date of birth, race and ethnic background, whether you sometimes live or stay elsewhere, and the relationship between occupants. It does NOT ask about citizenship, immigration status or social security number.
When will the questionnaire arrive and when should I send it in?
The questionnaires already have been mailed out. You should return your completed questionnaire as soon as you receive it.
What if I don’t get a questionnaire? What if I need help filling it out?
Some people might not receive a questionnaire, might not be included on a completed form or might need assistance in filling out the questionnaire. There are Questionnaire Assistance Centers in your community where a Census employee can help you complete the questionnaire in your own language. There are places where you can pick up a Be Counted questionnaire. Census questionnaires are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian and language Assistance Guides are available in 59 languages to help you complete the form. You can call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance Line, 1-866-872-6868 in English, 1-866-928-2010 in Spanish. For questions or additional information, please contact us: California Rural Legal Assistance