[lg policy] Hispanics won't count if they boycott Census

Robert Lawless robert.lawless at WICHITA.EDU
Mon Jun 15 15:34:49 UTC 2009

Is there any connection between the call for the boycott and the fact 
that CONLAMIC is largely evangelical?

Harold Schiffman wrote:
> Hispanics won't count if they boycott Census
> Posted by Ed Morales/ Star-Ledger Guest Columnist June 14, 2009 5:38AM
> A battle is emerging within the Latino community over immigration and
> the U.S. Census. Both sides seem well-intentioned, but their bitter
> divide may cause more long-term damage than the debate is worth.  The
> Washington-based National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christians, led
> by New Jersey Rev. Miguel Rivera, is calling for a boycott of the 2010
> Census by undocumented immigrants, who make up much of the coalition's
> constituency. Its leaders feel a boycott is the best way to pressure
> the Obama administration to put immigration reform on the front
> burner.
> Their slogan, "Antes de contar, nos tienen que legalizar" translates
> as "before you count us, you have to legalize us." The coalition
> contends that by being counted in the Census, undocumented immigrants
> help Latino politicians and advocates gain political and economic
> clout only to be treated as second-class citizens, denied government
> services and subjected to law enforcement harassment. "For many
> politicians, undocumented immigrants are just cash cows, and that's
> immoral," Rivera said in an interview.
> Conversely, Arturo Vargas, the executive director of the National
> Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials feels a boycott
> would be a "phenomenal step backward in the strides we have made to
> make sure (Latinos) are equal." His group claims Latinos were
> undercounted in the last Census by about 3 percent. The boycott flies
> in the face of NALEO's campaign, called "Hagase Contar" (roughly: Make
> Yourself Count).
> A recent editorial published in La Opinion, the country's leading
> Spanish-language newspaper, called the boycott "a serious mistake"
> that "verges on political suicide." Even a major Spanish-language
> television network, Telemundo, is pitching in, writing a pro-census
> plot line into one of its soap operas.
> In the past, arguing over the Census would draw stifled yawns from
> most, but the battle over the boycott is at a fever pitch for good
> reason. The Census is used to decide the number of representatives
> from each state, draw congressional districts and allocate federal
> aid. It generates data used to create policy on education, crime,
> health and the economy.
> While the boycott faces opposition from some religious groups,
> Rivera's coalition -- known by its Spanish acronym CONLAMIC -- seems
> capable of marshalling considerable participation. A 2007 study
> conducted by the Pew Hispanic Research Center says that 1 in 6 Latinos
> belong to an evangelical church. CONLAMIC draws from 20,000 Latino
> churches in 34 states (including over 600 in New Jersey), and has
> announced that 1 million of its members are willing to joint the
> boycott. That amounts to about the number NALEO claims has been
> undercounted.
> Rivera is dissatisfied with the efforts of NALEO and other national
> advocacy groups like the National Council of La Raza and the League of
> United Latin American Citizens, which he sees as too cozy with the
> Democratic Party and the Obama administration to rock the boat and
> push for prompt immigration reform.
> It is true that, despite recent calls for action from Democratic Sens.
> Charles Schumer and Harry Reid, immigration reform has been slow in
> coming. But with two wars, an economic crisis, and a raft of other
> foreign and domestic policy issues, it is understandable that it would
> not be President Obama's top priority. The administration may be
> hoping the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor, New York-born to Puerto
> Rican parents, will help mollify America's growing Hispanic
> constituency.
> It also should be noted that CONLAMIC's Rivera served on the Advisory
> Coalition to the White House on Immigration Reform under George W.
> Bush. Rivera says he is an independent, and notes his organization
> endorsed Obama's Sotomayor pick. But his call for a boycott, whether
> intentionally or not, dovetails with Republican attacks on the census.
> Just last month, North Carolina Republican representative Patrick
> McHenry alleged that Obama's choice of Robert Groves as head of the
> Census Bureau "raises fresh concerns about the White House's desire to
> manipulate Census data for partisan advantage."
> While it is true that advocacy groups and politicians show an almost
> religious fervor to demonstrate ever-increasing Hispanic population
> numbers, that seeming self-interest is hardly a reason to urge the
> undocumented to make themselves invisible.
> The bedrock of our political system and our democratic ideals is
> participation, and even though allowing oneself to be counted in the
> census is no substitute for citizenship and the right to vote, it's
> one of the few ways the undocumented have to participate.
> CONLAMIC's leaders are right to point out that Latino advocates and
> politicians should not be satisfied with the slow progress the new
> administration has shown in tackling immigration reform. But by urging
> undocumented immigrants to hide themselves from view, they are denying
> them the seeds of future representation and political participation.
> In that way, they are indirectly denying them their rights.
> http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2009/06/hispanics_wont_count_if_they_b.html
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