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Friday, April 24, 2009

Serrano: "Stand up and be Counted"

Congressman Jose Serrano has release a statement on Latinos being counted in the upcoming 2010 Census. Since political representation and many forms of funding are based on the Census, it's worth repeating his comments from his most recent newsletter here:

"Stand up and be Counted"

Last week, Congressman Serrano urged all Latinos, regardless of immigration status to participate fully in the 2010 Census. He was responding to a recent series of statements by Latino activists calling for a boycott of the Census, which Serrano condemned as “extremely counterproductive.”

“These calls for a boycott of the Census by Latinos are just plain wrong, and do not serve our community’s best interest,” said Serrano. “We have worked so hard for so many years for our Latino voices to be heard, so these ideas are particularly troubling to me. The message for all Latinos across the nation – regardless of immigration status – is you must stand up and be counted.

“While I understand the frustration of many Latinos over the need for immigration reform, any attempted boycott will simply be misguided. Anti-immigrant advocates have already advocated attempting to exclude undocumented immigrants from census counts and from redistricting. By excluding ourselves, we give them a victory they don’t deserve.

“In addition, any type of Census boycott by Latinos will disproportionately harm Latinos, both documented and undocumented. By forcing an undercount of the Latino population, any boycott would end up hurting the Latino population. Resources and representation are apportioned to communities by population as recorded by the census, so a census boycott would only serve to strip funding and political power from our communities. We need more Latino representation in all levels of government—but the ability to do that ultimately comes from high numbers of Latinos accurately filling out Census forms.

“I can remember that prior to the 1990 Census, the Catholic Church urged undocumented immigrants not to participate in the Census. In the subsequent 10 years the Church realized the harm that this had caused, and they had no such message for Latinos in 2000. I hope that those advocating a boycott of the 2010 Census by Latinos take less time than that to figure out the true harm that would be caused.

“Our community needs all the support that it can get. We do that by taking part in the civic duties of the United States. If you are undocumented, you should be showing that you want to take part in all the rights and duties that a citizen would. Sending a message that you only want the benefits is the wrong idea. It is extremely counterproductive to our efforts to bring comprehensive immigration reform.”

1 comment:

  1. For those of us with loved ones who are undocumented, this argument is not compelling enough for us to support the Census. That Congressman Serrano is basically saying 'trust me, you need to be counted for your own good' is not a compelling argument given the injustices happening around us right now with our undocumented family members. If you haven't seen it for yourself, read the NY Times stories about the detained woman in Iowa whose 6 month old son was adopted away under the rule of 'abandonment' by an American family while she was in a jail cell after a workplace raid. Where were her representatives in Congress when she needed them? What gives Serrano the right to urge them to be counted at a time like this? Why are not he and other Latino leaders at the floor of Congress expressing outrage at the lack of progress and change with immigration reform rather than asking undocumented to participate in civic duties?


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