Making a concerted effort to increase participation in the upcoming 2010 Census, in January the United States Census Bureau revealed its educational Spanish-language website directed at Latinos in the U.S. With a constantly evolving population in this country, the Census Bureau is seeking out new means to reach all those living within the U.S. so that they can be properly counted.
Marketing the 2010 Census to Latinos in the U.S. does not come without its challenges. For instance, during the last census in 2000, there was much suspicion over the “long-form” version of the census questionnaire that was mailed to roughly one in six households in the country. The eight-question form sent to everyone else contained basic questions about age, gender, and race. However, the 53 questions in the long form ranged from inquiring about income and the dollar amount of mortgage payments to what means of transportation is used for work and how the home is heated. Such questions were deemed too intrusive by many, including U.S. Hispanics. As a result, only 69 percent of Hispanic households returned the census forms mailed to them. In contrast, the return rate for white households was 80.8 percent. In response to the upheaval over that census, the Spanish-language website explains in a question and answer format that the 2010 questionnaire will have only ten basic questions including name, race, and date of birth. An example of the form can also be reviewed on the website.
The new US Census 2010 Spanish-language website reaches out to Spanish-speaking citizens not only to explain just what the 2010 Census is and what benefits can be gained from it, but it also recognizes the concerns Latinos in the U.S. have voiced about the census process. For example, U.S. Hispanics have serious worry about the confidentiality of the census and how participating in it could result in criminal prosecution over legal status. As the website explains, The U.S. Census Bureau has been required by the Constitution to count citizens and non-citizens alike since 1790 and has done so in every census since. The website goes on to assert that all information collected in the census is protected by law as well. In other words, every person working for the census is sworn to never disclose any information collected, and the penalties for breaking that oath can be as harsh as a five-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine. More importantly, this oath includes not sharing information with any federal or law enforcement agency.
Going further to address matters of confidentiality, the Spanish-language website explains that the 2010 Census is a mailed questionnaire. Therefore, if the form is mailed back within the time frame allotted, no representatives of the U.S. Census Bureau will visit. This should allay the concerns of anyone not wishing to have his or her privacy intruded upon by a visit from a census worker. Finally, the website stresses how important participation in the census is because federal assistance for services like education, transportation, and health care are apportioned based upon population counts.
Hispanic Market Advisors is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to help achieve a complete and accurate count of our population as part of the 2010 Census. It is projected that in the next few decades the Latino population will double in size. Census data help state and local governments determine the resources needed to support the growing Latino population.
Get involved: Toolkit for Reaching Latinos (US Census Bureau)