Census Bureau: We’ll Work with ‘Community Organizations’ to Count All Illegal Aliens in 2010

April 2, 2009 - 7:57 AM
The acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Thomas Mesenbourg, told CNSNews.com that the bureau intends to work with community organizations to make sure every illegal alien in the United States is counted in the 2010 Census.
(CNSNews.com) - The acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau, Thomas Mesenbourg, told CNSNews.com that the bureau intends to work with community organizations to make sure every illegal alien in the United States is counted in the 2010 Census.

The Census is used to apportion the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. There are 435 House seats that are divided among the states in proportion to their population, which is determined by the decennial census. States with more people get more seats in the U.S. House.

This means that a state harboring more illegal aliens can gain more House seats as long as the Census Bureau finds the illegal aliens and counts them. This also means that the illegal alien population resident in the United States during a census year has the potential to alter the regional and philosophical balance of power in Congress.

Mesenbourg’s comments were made after a press conference on Wednesday where Commerce Secretary Gary Locke joined several interest groups, including Univision, the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) to talk about efforts to ensure a full count of Latinos in the 2010 Census.

When asked whether he intended to maximize the count of illegal aliens in next year’s census, Mesenburg said: “Our job is to count everyone that resides in the U.S.--count them once. So, certainly that’s our goal to count every individual, every resident whether they’re documented, undocumented, whether they are citizens or non-citizens.”
 

 
He said local community organizations will play a key role in making sure all illegal immigrants are counted.

“The local communities are going to have a strong partnership program in each of the local communities, and we’re going to focus on the hard to count geographic areas. That typically has been areas with high numbers of undocumented workers but it’s much more diverse than that,” he said.

“So, what we’ll do is we’ll have Census Bureau folks out in those neighborhoods recruiting community organizations, faith-based organizations, and local media to get that message out that it’s safe, it’s easy, and it’s important to file your 2010 Census form,” said Mesenbourg.

Mesenbourg also said the Census Bureau intended to reach out to illegal aliens through local organizations that the aliens see as “trusted” voices to let them know it is safe to cooperate with the Census Bureau in being counted.
 
“It’s more than just the Census Bureau telling them that it’s safe,” said Mesenbourg. “We need somebody that they view as a trusted voice--somebody from that community, whether perhaps the local pastor or somebody in a community organization that can assure them that it’s safe.”

“One way to improve the safety is you get a census form, fill it out, return it by mail and no one will come knocking on your door after that,” he said.

The forms Mesenbourg referenced are available on the Census Bureau’s Web site. They do not require a Social Security number to be completed and counted.

Both English and bilingual versions of the census form are available for downloading in PDF form from the Census Bureau's website.

Mesenbourg explained why he and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke attended the event with several Latino special interest groups.
 
“Well, getting a full and accurate count is job number one for us,” said Mesenbourg. “The secretary recognizes that and we recognize that the Census Bureau and the Department Commerce alone can’t carry out a successful census.”
 
“We need to partner with organizations that are viewed as trusted voices in their local community, and certainly this coalition’s going to go a far way in terms of accomplishing that goal,” he said.
 
The executive director of the NALEO Educational Fund, Arturo Vargas, said they want to make sure every single person who resides in the county is counted.
 
“You know the census is something that’s required by the United States Constitution, and the Constitution says that it should be an enumeration all persons. So, we want to make sure that every single person who resides in this country gets enumerated,” Vargas told CNSNews.com during the press conference.
 
Ruben Keoseyan, publisher of the newspaper La Raza, said the organizations at the press conference have partnered with the Census Bureau to help undocumented immigrants “come out and register” for the census.

“This is not just a partnership among the people that you see here,” said Keoseyan. “This is also a partnership with the Census Bureau because we believe that we can aid in helping those people come out and register and participate in the census. It’s a much easier form. It’s going to be in Spanish.”

“It will be a bilingual form which we will replicate in our publications, but most importantly it’ll be a pencil and paper type of thing and we will be there to support this,” he said. “But if the Census Bureau and the federal government doesn’t support the efforts and the trust that we’re going to have put out there to have people believe in what we’re trying to get there.”

Below is the full transcript of the interview with the acting director of the U.S. Census Bureau Thomas L. Mesenbourg:

CNSNews.com: “Do you want to maximize the counting of illegal immigrants in the 2010 Census?”

Mesenbourg: “Our job is to count everyone that resides in the U.S. Count them once. So, certainly that’s our goal to count every individual, every resident whether they’re documented, undocumented, whether they are citizens or non-citizens.”

CNSNews.com: “Why do you think the commerce secretary and you as well came to this event?”

Mesenbourg: “Well, getting a full and accurate count is job number one for us. The secretary recognizes that and we recognize that the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce alone can’t carry out a successful census. We need to partner with organizations that are viewed as trusted voices in their local community and certainly this coalition’s going to go a far way in terms of accomplishing that goal.”
 
CNSNews.com: “They had mentioned during the actual event, local communities and their role in counting. How does that relate to the illegal immigrant counting in the census?”

Mesenbourg: “Well, the local communities are going to have a strong partnership program in each of the local communities and we’re going to focus on the hard to count geographic areas. That typically has been areas with high numbers of undocumented workers, but it’s much more diverse than that. So, what we’ll do is we’ll have Census Bureau folks out in those neighborhoods recruiting community organizations, faith-based organizations, and local media to get that message out that it’s safe, it’s easy and it’s important to file your 2010 census form.”
 
CNSNews.com: “I imagine it must be difficult counting them if they think it’s not safe.”
 
Mesenbourg: “Yeah, and it’s more than just the Census Bureau telling them that it’s safe. We need somebody that they view as a trusted voice--somebody from that community, whether perhaps the local pastor or somebody in a community organization that can assure them that it’s safe. One way to improve the safety is you get a census form, fill it out, return it by mail, and no one will come knocking on your door after that.”