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Members Call for Census Participation

Members of Congress held a kickoff event for the 2010 Census in the Longworth building on Wednesday, emphasizing the importance of filling out census forms that will begin arriving in mailboxes in the coming weeks.

“We are focused on giving all the effort and using all the resources available — to count everybody, every person in the borders of our country,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md) said. “It’s about every community in America getting their fair share.”

Inaccuracies in the 2000 count, which often stemmed from reluctance within “hard-to-count” communities to participate for fear of negative repercussions, led to uneven apportionment of federal funds and Congressional representation. Speakers sought to counteract any such fears.

“We want everyone in America to know: Participation in the census cannot hurt you,” Hoyer said, repeating the phrase and pounding the lectern to emphasize each word. “Sitting it out can and does hurt your neighbors.”

Census Director Robert Groves echoed this point and referenced the “unprecedentedly large” support of more than 200,000 partner organizations that have been engaged in outreach to “overcome suspicions that this census is hurting” people.

Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said an accurate count will be particularly important to chronicle a surge in the Latino population since 2000. She noted that census data capturing this growth could lead to the creation of at least two seats in Texas alone. She also rebuked Latino advocacy groups that have urged a census boycott as a means of signaling their discontent at Obama’s failure to address immigration reform.

“For those who are angry, particularly the Latino community, who are angry that we have not taken on comprehensive immigration reform and so we should boycott the census — that is wrong,” Velázquez said.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), chairman of the Asian Pacific American Caucus, also talked about the negative consequences of the inaccuracies in the 2000 Census.

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