The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Immigrants and the Census
The census counts every person regardless of immigration status. The census is extremely important for documenting the growth of immigrant communities, allocating resources for needed services, and identifying areas where civil rights enforcement may be needed.
Immigrant communities are at higher risk for being undercounted and require special attention to ensure an accurate count. Community-based organizations can play a key role in helping immigrants understand the importance of being counted and overcoming reluctance to participate.
Some immigrants distrust or fear the federal government, especially in light of recent raids and deportations. Undocumented immigrants and families that include undocumented individuals may fear that providing information to census takers will compromise their safety and security.
Some may think it is illegal for undocumented immigrants to participate in the census, as it would be for them to register or vote. Others may worry that statistics about growing immigrant communities, or information about the number of people living in a single household, will lead to a backlash from anti-immigrant activists or local officials, or enforcement action from landlords or housing authorities.
English proficiency can be another barrier to participation. The Census Bureau will produce questionnaires and provide telephone assistance in six languages, will run advertising in 13 languages, and will produce guides to the census in more than 60 languages.
Some immigration reform advocates have called for a boycott of the census as a way to build political pressure for passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. It's a well-meaning but entirely self-defeating idea. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund and national Hispanic civil rights organizations all support comprehensive immigration reform, and all strongly oppose any boycott of the census.
Myths and Facts on Immigrants and the Census
Myth: Undocumented immigrants should not be counted by the census.
Fact: Everyone counts in the census, regardless of immigration status.
- The census is designed to count everyone living in the United States, regardless of legal status
- Census statistics are used to figure out what kind of services each community needs, including schools, hospitals and health clinics, and jobs.
- Census information is used to figure out which communities have enough people who speak languages other than English so as to require services in other languages.
Myth: Immigrants can avoid the census by not completing their census form.
Fact: If you don't want a visit from the government, complete your form promptly.
- People who return a completed census form will not be contact by the Census Bureau
- People who don't return a form by April 1 could have census workers come to their home up to six times to try to get a form completed
Myth: Immigrants don't benefit from the census.
Fact: Everyone, including immigrants, benefits from investments in education, health care, and jobs that are distributed based on census information. And census data are also used in ways that are of special importance to immigrants, including:
- funding for nonprofit organizations to provide job assistance aimed at making foreign-born people economically self-sufficient;
- helping states and local agencies develop health care and other services tailored to the language and cultural diversity of immigrants, including health care and other services tailored to the language and cultural diversity of elderly people under the Older Americans Act.
- protecting the right to vote by evaluating voting practices of government subdivisions, such as states, counties, and school districts, under the Voting Rights Act;
- evaluating the effectiveness of equal opportunity employment programs and policies under the Civil Rights Act;
- allocating funds to school districts for children with limited English language proficiency;
Myth: Answering the census could get me in trouble with immigration or my landlord.
Fact: There's no need to fear the census. Individual information is safe and your privacy is strongly protected.
- The census form does not ask about immigration status.
- Census responses are confidential and protected by the strongest privacy laws we have.
- The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a statement declaring that no other law – not even the PATRIOT Act – overrides the confidentiality of the census.
- No other government agency – not even law enforcement or the courts – can get any person's individual census information for 72 years.
- No other law or agency can override protections for the confidentiality of people's responses to census questions – not the Patriot Act, the IRS, Homeland Security, or ICE.
- No private company, landlord or employer can get any household's census information, even with a court order.
- Every census worker has to swear an oath to keep information confidential for life. If they violate that oath they face big fines and jail time.
- The only thing to fear is not being counted.
Myth: Immigrants can gain influence by threatening to boycott the census.
Fact: Boycotting the census can only hurt immigrant communities and limit their influence.
- Boycotting the census is a terrible idea – it doesn't do anything to help us. If the census shows smaller numbers of people in our communities, it will mean fewer resources and services for the next 10 years.
- Numbers matter. In the past, immigrants have been more likely to be missed in the census. Getting everyone counted will demonstrate the strength of our communities and will give us a bigger voice in government, business, and decisions that affect our lives and families.
- Census information helps identify places where people are being denied opportunities and where action is needed to help protect civil rights. If immigrants are under-reported, civil rights enforcement could be weakened.
- The census is designed to count everyone so that important decisions can be made about political representation and public and private investments in communities. Anybody who lives here should be counted, no matter what their legal status.
- If we stay out of the census, we'll get shut out of benefits we and our communities deserve.
- Participation in the census is required by law; ignoring the law is a bad way to build influence with lawmakers and other policymakers