Latinos Undercounted In Census, Millions In Funding Lost

There’s already controversy surrounding the 2010 Census, even though it hasn’t even been fully released. Along the U.S.-Mexico border, where Latinos are concentrated, poor neighborhoods known as colonias were severely undercounted. Colonias are heavily immigrant neighborhoods, very poor and seem to have been afterthoughts to those who organized the 2010 Census.

What does this mean? It means that millions of dollars in funding will be lost to communities that desperately need it. Why is this important? Well, if it happens in one place with Latinos, what do you want to bet it would happen in another place, another state, another city? Perhaps even where you live? Word on the street is that, when Census officials were made aware of how badly they botched this, they got angry with organizers, check out what these organizers said below:

The Rio Grande Equal Voice Network is not surprised at the findings of the 2010 Census count. Equal Voice partners told Census officials over and again that their plans for the Rio Grande Valley were deeply flawed, both in its design and in its operations. According to the numbers, Hidalgo County, Texas only added 100,000 people during the past ten years — a count flies in the face of the extraordinary and quite visible growth that has occurred across the region.

In the face of the drastic cuts in human services that are proposed at every level of government, the Equal Voice partners know from past experience that the first people to suffer from these cuts will be families and children. The final count is particularly distressing in view of the recent reports on the astonishing indices of poverty in Texas, and in particular, in the Rio Grande Valley. In a region that is amongst the fastest growing and the youngest in the nation, this would be a time for investment in our families, not a time for short-changing them. The unacceptably high rates of the uninsured, under-employed and illiterate underscore the need for those responsible for our government to insure that the resources that are due our communities are in fact available.

The Equal Voice Network invested much time and resources into assuring that the 2010 count would be accurate. We partnered with the Census Bureau from the outset of the campaign and trusted that our recommendations, offered from the experience of ten community-based organizations working in the Rio Grande Valley, would be heeded.

Our recommendations were ignored, time and again, both by Mr. Gabriel Sanchez, the Regional Director, as well as by Dr. Robert Groves, the national census director himself. In face-to-face meetings with Network representatives, the two men assured us that the expensive, door-to-door counting operation that the Census Bureau had in mind was a pledge of the Bureau’s commitment to a fair count. The men refused, however, to admit to the difficulties of such an operation, despite the testimony of Network members who have spent decades working in the rural areas of the counties. The Equal Voice Network insisted, time and again, on the wisdom of mailing forms to the residents of the counties. This cost-effective effort would have insured privacy to the residents who are reluctant to entertain strangers from the federal government in their homes.

On a number of occasions, Census officials justified the door-to-door approach by explaining their lack of confidence in residents’ ability to fill out a form that the Census Bureau had branded as “easy, safe, and simple.” To the contrary, the operation proved complicated, expensive, and wrong-headed. Equal Voice partners have proof of entire areas that were not counted, even after Census officials were alerted.

In the end, the 2010 Census efforts in the Valley have turned out to be an enormous waste of the nation’s resources and a disservice to the residents of the Rio Grande Valley. We understand that for each uncounted resident, the area will lose $10,000 in resources over the next ten years. Simple math shows what a tragedy that will be for our children, the ones who would most benefit from a fair allotment of resources.

Simple justice demands that this count be reviewed and remedied.

To contact the Equal Voice Network, email: [email protected]

[Photo Courtesy Facebook]

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