The U.S. Commerce Department is sending representatives to community−based and social service organizations to involve them in the 2010 Census so as many people as possible are counted. At a recent Queens Civic Congress meeting, Census Partnership Specialist Elsy Guibert spoke to the gathering of civic association leaders. She explained the reasons why the census is important every decade.
One reason is that every year, the federal government distributes $300 billion in funds to states and communities based on Census statistics. If people who have certain needs are not identified, then needed money for schools, roads, hospitals, etc., will not be provided.
Another reason is that it determines how many people a state will have in the U.S. House of Representatives and local legislatures. If people in New York state are not counted, we can lose at least one seat in the House.
Also, thousands of jobs are needed to do the counting. In today’s poor job market, a Census job is a good thing.
Guibert wanted the Queens civic, tenant and block associations to help explain the Census to people. The information gathered cannot be given to any other government agency for 72 years. The form is short and takes a few minutes to fill out. If people are not counted, the community loses out on government funds or representation. Businesses use Census data as indicators for opening stores or factories in a community.
Civic association leaders are known for their blunt talk. One asked, “How are you going to count the illegal aliens or regular legal foreigners who stay by themselves and don’t get involved in the community?”
The Census Bureau is contacting community and ethnic groups in the hopes of hiring some of their members to conduct the Census and having some explain to their own people about the confidentiality and importance of the Census. If a Census worker gives out any information illegally, he or she can be fined up to $250,000 and⁄or be imprisoned for five years.
Regretfully, many new immigrants came here because of a cruel government back in their homeland, so they do not trust government officials. Lately, after reading about the huge amounts of money drug traffickers pay as bribes and noting the number of officials of all kinds going to jail for illegal activities, I wonder about the morality of our country. The illegal immigrants just want to blend in and not be noticed, so they will not fill out anything.
The Census Bureau will try again to count us. Workers will he hired. In the spring of 2009, Census employees will go door to door to update address lists nationwide. Of course, a number of people will not answer the door, like illegal immigrants, drug dealers and those who built illegal rooms in their houses. If the city Department of Buildings cannot gain entrance to check on illegal rooms, a Census worker will not get a door to open.
From February to March 2010, Census questionnaires will be mailed or hand−delivered to households. April 1, 2010, will be Census Day. From April−July 2010, Census takers will visit households that did not return a questionnaire by mail.
In December 2010, the Census Bureau will deliver population counts to President Barack Obama for apportionment purposes.
GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Many people protect us. Some get paid, but some are volunteers. In 2007, two volunteer, unarmed auxiliary police officers were patrolling Greenwich Village in Manhattan when a deranged criminal killed a bartender.
They followed the person through the streets, unarmed and unprotected by bulletproof vests, warning people to stay away and saving lives. Then Auxiliary Police Officers Nicholas Pekearo and Eugene Marshalik were shot to death.
Streets were just named after them and a plaque was placed on the Sixth Precinct’s Wall of Honor in Lower Manhattan. Today, all auxiliary officers have vests — a bittersweet accomplishment.
Why can’t our officials think ahead?