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The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights  & The Leadership Conference Education Fund
The Nation's Premier Civil and Human Rights Coalition

Vitter-Bennett Amendment Will Ruin the 2010 Census

October 20, 2009 - Posted by Tyler Lewis

Wade Henderson with civil rights leaders

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, with civil rights leaders speaking at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

Civil rights groups are urging the Senate to reject an amendment to the Commerce Justice and Science Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriations bill that would ruin the Census Bureau's ability to conduct an accurate census next year.

The amendment by Sens. David Vitter, R. La., and Robert Bennett, R. Utah, would require the Census Bureau to add a citizenship and immigration status question to 2010 census forms.  The question would inflame concerns within both native-born and immigrant communities about the confidentiality and privacy of information provided to the government and deter many people from filling out their census form.

In addition, with the 2010 census scheduled to take place in less than six months on April 1, the bureau has already finalized and printed most of the materials.  The amendment would require the bureau to redo the materials, wasting more than $7 billion and 10 years of research, planning, and preparation.

"[The Vitter amendment] contradicts what America stands for – the idea that all people are created equal. The 14th Amendment clearly requires a count of every resident for apportionment of U.S. House seats, yet the Vitter amendment echoes a shameful period when the census counted most African Americans as three-fifths of a person. The ideals that our country was founded on, and the sacrifice and struggle of generations of Americans to realize them, deserve better than this," Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, said.

The Senate could vote on the amendment later this week.

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