January 28, 2010 | The Hillsboro Argus | Original Article

Census using media to ease fears in Latino community

For the Census Bureau, short-term memory lasts 10 years.

And it was a decade ago that the nation’s Latino community was undercounted by an estimated three percent, according to the Washington Post, with many Latinos afraid Census workers would report them to immigration authorities.

Because people here illegally still use roads, schools, fire departments and other public services, an undercount leaves agencies underfunded.

The Census Bureau has gotten an early start on raising awareness about the Census, mainly through media outreach, said Henry Cualio, a media specialist with the Census Bureau’s Seattle Region.

We’ve done a lot of PSAs and interviews with Spanish radio stations,” Cualio said. “We’re trying to make sure they get the right word out there.”

Sabino Sardineta, director of the Centro Cultural community center, said he thinks a less hostile environment for immigrants in Washington County makes it easier for Census workers to do their jobs.

“There’s less fear here than in other places,” Sardineta said. Those who are afraid are “a minority compared to other counties where there is no leadership and trust being promoted.”

Sardineta said Centro has not been doing much to promote the census, other than hosting a weekly test for potential Census workers.

Meanwhile, Cualio keeps sending the message home through working with DJs at Hispanic radio stations and other outreach efforts, explaining that information acquired during the Census is not shared with other government agencies.

“When somebody from a radio station tells them it’s safe and it’s easy, it emphasizes the fact,” Cualio said.

This story appeared on page A4 of the Jan. 26, 2010 Hillsboro Argus.