March 18, 2010 | KHOU 11 News | Original Article

Groups working to dispel fears about Census in Hispanic communities

HOUSTON—In the East Houston neighborhood of Denver Harbor, Angelita Ramos and Romero Hernandez told 11 News why some Hispanics fear the U.S. Census.

"It’s because they think the immigration is gonna pick them up, take ‘em. Just doing that so they can say, ‘Come on, let’s go,’" Ramos said.

The campaign to fight that fear began last October, but it will hit its full stride next week.

Community groups like Houston’s Naleo are holding daily rallies in Hispanic neighborhoods, letting the community know there’s nothing to be afraid of.

"We’re seeing that the community is responding. The community is wanting to make that step, but there is still a lot of work to do," Claudia Ortega-Hogue said.

The census forms arriving at Houston homes this week include some of the 13 million printed in Spanish.

Those forms are targeted mostly to low-income neighborhoods like Denver Harbor, in the hopes that more Hispanics will respond, be counted and get better government representation.

Census workers are reminding people that filling out the form and mailing it in is the easiest way to do it. Because regardless of who you are or where you live, if you don’t mail in the form, a worker will come knocking on your door as many as seven times until they get an answer.

"The best way to eliminate that is to fill out the form and turn it in and have a great day. That’s just the best way to do it," Sylvia Cavazos said.

Meanwhile, Ramos – a native Texan – said she has a message for her fellow Latinos.

"No tengas miedo," she said.

Don’t be afraid – be counted when the census comes to call.