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  1. #1
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    Dollars and Census:Millions of Dollars at Stake in TX Valley

    From "The Monitor", McAllen, TX

    Dollars and census: Millions of dollars at stake for Valley

    July 2, 2009 - 11:49 PM
    Ryan Holeywell
    The Monitor

    The year 2010 is about money and power.

    That's when the government will, again, send surveys through the mail and researchers through communities to try to get an accurate count of every single person in the country.

    Municipalities nationwide are ramping up their public awareness efforts to try to urge resident to respond to the decennial census so that cities' and counties' recorded populations are as accurate — and large — as possible.

    In the Rio Grande Valley, local officials are focusing their efforts on ensuring tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants are included in the count.

    The census seeks to count not just citizens but residents. With big money and political clout both depending on those numbers, governments are hoping that not a single person falls through the cracks.


    For local governments, the stakes are high.

    Census data are used to help make decisions about how the federal government distributes $300 billion to state and local governments for schools, senior programs, libraries, infrastructure and community programs.

    The data are also used to help determine whether states gain or lose congressional seats.

    Texas could gain three or four seats in the U.S. House based on current population projections, said Rolando Rios, an attorney working on census issues for the city of McAllen, Hidalgo County and South Texas College.

    McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez, who chair's the city's census committee, said being counted in the census is a basic right, like voting.

    "This is the way we assure ourselves of representation," he said. "It's one of the principles this country is based on."

    While a high census count can give a community increased political clout, a large population can also make a city more desirable for a business considering a move there, said Gary Rodriguez, media manager for the city of Pharr and a member of the city's census committee.

    "There are so many components dependent on this complete count," Rodriguez said.

    He said his city views the census as so critical that, over the next year, city employees working on the census committee will treat those duties just as importantly as their day-to-day jobs.

    Officials will make a special push to preach their message about the importance of the census to colonia residents, migrant workers and undocumented immigrants, who are especially at risk for being undercounted.

    For every person undercounted in a census, the local government stands to lose $2,500 over the course of 10 years, Rios said.

    In 2000, the survey undercounted Hidalgo County by an estimated 2.13 percent, or 12,248 people, based on data drawn from birth certificates, death certificates and migration trends, the attorney said.

    That translated to about $30.6 million in lost money for the region.


    Census forms will be mailed out in March and are designed to collect basic demographic information about residents. The form should only take 10 minutes to complete, and those who don't do so will likely be visited by census workers who go door-to-door to try to count residents.

    Juanita Valdez-Cox, executive director of La Union del Pueblo Entero, an immigrant advocacy group based in San Juan, said some undocumented immigrants are skeptical of completing the survey.

    Some simply don't see the point, since they are ineligible for many government services. Others fear their information will be shared with immigration authorities — even though federal law specifically prohibits that practice.

    "The core message we're getting out to all the residents right now is that it's safe," said Felicia Ramirez, partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau. "All the information is kept confidential, within the bureau."

    But one group, the evangelical National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, is urging undocumented immigrants to boycott the survey.

    "We're exploiting these people," the Rev. Ben Piña, an Edinburg-based officer in that organization, said last month. The government's attitude, he said, is "Let's count them, get all the benefits, and the sooner we can get them out of our country the better."

    Valdez-Cox said even though undocumented immigrants aren't eligible for many government services, they still benefit from schools, roads and clinics. A more accurate population count helps ensure services like those get the funding they need.

    And she also tries to convey the message that if the count in South Texas is high enough, it could help the area get another congressman, which would ensure better representation of the region's interests.

    "We try to have a conversation about the importance (of the census)," said Valdez-Cox, who is also a member of the Hidalgo County government's census committee. "Saying ‘Make sure you're going to get counted' is not going to go far. We have to tell them why."


    Local governments are piggy-backing on community events like festivals and holiday celebrations and using them as an opportunity to distribute information about the census.

    They're also promoting the survey at schools, in hopes that children will become interested in the census and take that message home to their parents.

    Meanwhile, local governments are providing some logistical support for the census.

    For example, McAllen's planning department has been sharing up-to-date maps of new annexations and subdivisions so the Census Bureau knows where to mail forms and knock on doors, said Juli Rankin, the city's planning director.

    McAllen leaders even plan to have a census-themed float in the city's Fourth of July parade Saturday.

    "You have to have the local leadership be aware of the importance (of the census), and at every occasion make it a point to alert the public of what's coming and highlight how important it is that they do fill out the form," Rios said.

    Ryan Holeywell covers McAllen, PSJA, the Mid-Valley and general assignments for The Monitor. He can be reached at (956) 683-4446. ... urate.html
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  2. #2
    Senior Member vmonkey56's Avatar
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    Dec 2007
    Tarheel State
    Now why should an American Citizen be counted? To give away more money?
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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