We're coming up on 2010 and that means it's time for the U.S. census.
But there is a group of evangelical pastors telling undocumented immigrants they shouldn't be counted, according to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times. They are doing this as a form of reverse protest to call on the Obama Administration to push for comprehensive immigration reform.
Yes. That's right. They want undocumented immigrants to have the opportunity to legalize but they don't want them counted in the U.S. census.
It doesn't make any sense to me either. So I called up Flavia Jimenez with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and asked her what she thought. She is the coordinator of their upcoming census campaign.
"The every day lives of immigrants would be affected by an undercount," Jimenez told me. "This would lead to a significant loss for immigrant communities."
Well, the census helps the government do a variety of things such as
plans for schools, roads, and electoral districts. So it's important
everybody is counted so we don't wind up with overcrowded schools or
scarce resources to rebuild infrastructure. Some estimate that results in $1,000 in federal funds for each person counted.
The undocumented may already be fearful to report personal information
to the government. They may say there are only four people living in a
house when there are really seven because they fear their municipality
may use that information against them, Jimenez explained. But that
information can't be shared with another government agency.
"It's written into federal law that the census is completely confidential," Jimenez said.
So a boycott of the census would not just hurt undocumented immigrants
but all of us. The size of our communities would not be adequately
counted and we wouldn't get all the services we need.
The whole idea Census boycott is just silly.