Boycott of 2010 census starts in San Jose

September 28, 2009 8:14:35 PM PDT
The National Census will be taken April 1, 2010, but as the preparations for that are getting underway, a boycott is being organized in the South Bay.

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The Census Bureau is already working on next spring's head count in the Bay Area. It's doing outreach to a wide range of communities to spread a simple message. Ralph Lee is the regional director.

"I want to underscore that it's safe and that it's easy," says Lee.

However, some communities are starting to hear a contrary message.

In opposition, the national president of the Mexican American Political Association, Nativo Lopez, says "Do not participate, do not cooperate, do not comply."

Two national Latino groups are urging a boycott of the census: the National Coalition of Latino Clergy And Christian Leaders and the Mexican American Political Association. They seek amnesty for illegal immigrants and policy reform.

"It is the height of hypocrisy that the administration on one hand would seek to encourage immigrants to participate when it's convenient for the government and then on the other hand, turn around and deny immigrants benefits, services and rights," says Lopez.

San Jose Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, who chairs the House Immigration Subcommittee, points out $400 billion in federal funding for local communities is at stake.

"People who need their children to get a great education, people who need good roads to get to work on, all of that relates to having a good count," says Lofgren.

Census teams will mount information campaigns in five languages besides English. They will also work with schools to address the boycott.

"Because their teachers will be involved in the message, their school principals will be involved in the message, I think the children will see and convey to their own families that this is critical for the community and that it is safe," says J. Manuel Herrera, a census partnership leader.

Besides fulfilling a federal mandate, the census will also be helping the economy. More than one million people will be hired by the census, including 80,000 here in California. Many of them have been brought on board using federal stimulus funds.

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