March 2, 2010 | El Diario La Prensa NY | Original Article

Make our communities count

As the U.S. Census Bureau begins to mail questionnaires to households, we encourage Latinos to respond. This is urgent beyond an individual basis.

When it comes down to it, the census is all about resources for critical services. Full participation in the census will help ensure that federal and other funds reach communities at adequate levels. The count is a chief indicator of resources needed for public schools, health and emergency services, and public works projects. For the purposes of designating billions of federal dollars, each person counts roughly as $10,000 toward his or her community.

Unlike voting, you don’t need to choose a party, you don’t need to register, you don’t even need a social security number or to be a U.S. citizen. To participate in the Census 2010, you just need to live in the United States and answer 10 questions.

Some immigrants may fear that answering these questions could trigger immigration issues, but under federal law, this information can only be used for the purpose of the Census––meaning to build a profile of the United States, and nothing else.

The questions are aimed at determining how many people live in each household and their characteristics. The most important thing for Hispanics is to identify themselves as such, as this will give administrators a rough idea of which programs are needed in a community (for example, whether schools should have a bilingual education program).

How can your community get its share of $400 billion that the government allocates, and how will your community land better representation? This begins with you. Make yourself count in the census before April 1, 2010.