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U.S. Senators Propose Census Question About Immigration Status

By Mary Ann Zehr — October 20, 2009 1 min read

The U.S. Census Bureau has a program to try to reach communities that are historically undercounted in the census, such as Latinos. Some of the bureau’s public-outreach money goes to a schools program, which helps to raise awareness about the census.

At the same time, two U.S. senators have proposed an amendment to the census form that civil rights groups contend would discourage participation in the census by Latinos or other minorities.

The proposed amendment by Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and Sen. Robert Bennett, R-Utah, would add a question about immigration status. Vitter contends that the inclusion of undocumented people in the census permits some states, such as California, to get extra seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to coverage in The Hill blog.

Civil rights groups, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the Asian American Justice Center, plan to hold a press conference today to get out the message that they oppose such an amendment.

Already, according to a July report by National Public Radio, some Latinos are calling for a boycott of the 2010 census because they want to send a message to Congress that they are disappointed that immigration laws haven’t been overhauled.

Many educational researchers and demographers (see my blog post from yesterday) depend on U.S. census data to report about the characteristics of school-age children and their parents in the United States.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.