Why is your participation important?
Every 10 years the U.S. Census Bureau counts every resident in the United States as required by the Constitution. Some people consider this an intrusive process, an attitude that is prevalent in the ethnic community; which is understandable. We’ve witnessed years of government incursions into our lives and thus remain mistrustful of anything with a federal seal on it. However, the intent of the census is not to poke into anyone’s business or find out about your personal matters. The results of the 2010 Census will help our communities receive more than $400 billion in federal funds each year for the things that are critical to us and our families. That’s more than $4 trillion over a 10-year period.
Without an accurate census count, many of our communities will be underfunded for:
* Job training centers
* Senior centers
* Bridges, tunnels and other-public works projects
* Emergency services
Your participation in the census is your statement about what resources your community needs to support its population. By not participating you’re potentially hurting your community’s chances to receive its full share of federal resources. Also, the data collected by the census help determine the number of seats your state has in the U.S. House of Representatives. Without an accurate count, your community may not be adequately represented in government.
One of the biggest challenges facing the accuracy of the US Census is under-counting. Under-counting results from low census participation in some communities. This is a big issue in our community. The reason for the low participation varies, but one concern is confidentiality. This is particularly an issue among immigrants as they fear that personal information could be used against them if it gets revealed to local authorities. Unfortunately, this concern is simply unfounded. The fact is that anyone who reveals specific information about any household would be subject to up to five years in prison, plus a $250,000 fine. Furthermore, federal laws require that specific data about residents be concealed for 72 years before it can be made accessible to the general public. The fact is your census data is protected! So don’t be afraid…get counted!
In March of 2010, census forms will be delivered to every residence in the United States and Puerto Rico. Most of the forms will be in English; however, communities with high Spanish speaking populations will receive Spanish language forms. When you receive your form, take the time to answer the 10 short questions and then mail the form back. A postage-paid envelope is provided for you. Keep in mind that if you don’t mail the form back, you may receive a visit from a census taker who will ask you questions from the form.
The simplest and easiest approach is to just fill out the form and send it back as soon as you receive it. The whole process should only take 15 minutes, but the benefit to your community may last a lifetime.