March 24, 2010 | ABC | Original Article

Census Says "Hispanic" Not A Race

Most Valley families have received their 2010 Census forms in the mail. The federal government claims the form is simple to fill out ... but for some people the census questions are causing confusion.

The official census form has ten questions about each person living in your household. But question eight and nine can be confusing if you're of Hispanic origin. It says on the form "Hispanic origins" are not races. So which box do they check? The choices are White, Black or African American, American Indian or close to a dozen Asian races. It's left a big question mark for a lot of people.

Christian Urena, a Fresno Resident said, "I'm Hispanic, but I don't see it on the census. So what box would you check? It says 'some other race,' is that you? That would be me."

Alice Vasquez, another Fresno Resident said, "It is strange ... cuz you've already said you're Hispanic up here ... but it's paperwork and that's sometimes how it is ... so"

Javier Velez says his Fresno County birth certificate says he's "white" ... but he's not sure what to put on his census form.

Liz asks, "What will you put there?" Velez answers, "I would put 'other' ... I'm not under there anywhere ... so I would probably fill it out under 'other' and let them decide what I am."

Because of the confusion, Joel Alonzo, manager of the Fresno Census office has traveled extensively throughout the Valley. He spends a lot of his time trying to explain how the Valley's Hispanic population should fill out the form.

Alonzo explained, "What they should do is go right up to question eight ... the ethnicity should be Hispanic ... and the race should be 'white' on question number nine."

The exceptions to that are those who are indigenous to a certain geographic area ... for instance, the Mixtec population of Oaxaca Mexico ... or a specific tribe of American Indian.

And why is this information important? Because it helps the federal government divide up hundreds of billions of dollars to different parts of the country for education and roads and other special local needs.