Immigrants Urged to Complete the Forms
When the Census was last conducted in 2000 the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens were ranked among the worst counted places in New York State. Only 55 percent of the population complied and completed the forms and returned them to the Census Bureau.
Immigrants made up the largest group of those that were uncounted. They feared the government would misuse the information collected in the forms. U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said that was not so and urged the 500,000 undocumented immigrants to complete the forms, return them to the Census Bureau and be counted.
She said immigrants should rest assured that they will be protected under federal law. By law, she stressed, that individual responses were kept confidential and were not to be shared with other federal agencies. The forms, however, does not require respondents to provide information regarding their immigration status.
“The census is a win win for everyone and its safe, easy and fast to fill out,” she said. “It is critical that we capture a true picture of New York’s families and neighbourhoods to ensure their access to needed resources. Participation in Census 2010 by all New Yorkers is critical to ensuring our fair share of federal resources.”
She said her office will host throughout New York “Be Counted” Centers to help guide constituents through the filling process.
“This week households across New York State will be receiving one of the most important documents they will be given this decade: the 2010 Census Questionnaire Forms,” said Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez, president of the Hispanic Federation. She called on every one who received a package to fill the forms and return them to the Census Bureau.
New York Secretary of State Lorraine Cortes-Vasquez said census data affects funding and political representation in the communities. “Given the extraordinary economic challenges facing our families and communities right now, the stakes for an accurate count have never been greater, especially for Latinos and other groups who have traditionally been undercounted in the Census. An accurate count will ensure our state receives much needed federal funding for social services and infrastructure improvements.”
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be counted. By now most households would have received the Census 2010 package in the mail. An instruction sheet is enclosed to assist with the filling out of the forms which are to be returned in the envelope provided by mid April. Those who have not responded by then will be visited by Census workers. They”ll begin knocking on doors in the first week of May.
Census data is collected every ten years, and only once. The data is used by decision makers to determine where certain needs are in the communities and how they can be met. For instance, where to build new schools, health clinics, child care and senior centers among others. It also plays an important part in determining how many seats each state has in the House of Representatives.
Every year the federal government uses census information to distribute critically needed funds for programs at hospitals, schools, street cleaning, public housing, social services and food stamps. Undercounting has resulted in a shortfall of millions of federal dollars to communities over the last decade.
This year community leaders have partnered with the U.S. Census Bureau to begin a comprehensive campaign to ensure that the more than eight million residents in New York are counted. Everyone is urged to participate.
The new Census forms require each household to complete ten simple questions. It is safe and simple to fill and should take no more than ten minutes. They are in English and Spanish and require full name, birth date, country of origin and contact number. A return envelope with prepaid postage is included in each package. It’s as easy as that.