The Census will help us not hurt us

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The Census season of 2010 is nearing and certain news articles in immigrant newspapers are alarming the immigrant community.  There is the misconception that the census information will be used against them and therefore if they hide and are not counted it will somehow “save”: them from the force of government. 

Participating with the census effort is not only important  but vital in this day of cut funds for the states.  Information of the makeup of each state is important in order for Congress to decide what programs are important and which need to be cut off.  State legislatures need to know the makeup of their constituencies in order to figure out what needs to be apportioned and what not.  The Census is mandated by the Constitution and therefore needs to be done.  But what is more important, is to let everyone know that under Federal Law, the law protects the information obtained from each one of us.  The strongest protection is provided by Title 13 of the United States code.  It reads as follows:

  • Information is private and never published.
  • It is against the law to offer any information or public whatever information obtained privately, or identifying people or businesses.  No interviewer will ask names, or addresses, or social security numnbers, or telephone numbers, or any identification for employment.
  • The gatheirng of data is only for statistical purposes.
  • Information is sought only for statistical purposes.  Your information cannot be used against you by any agency of the government or any court of law.
  • An oath is taken for life to protect the confidentiality of the persons interviewed.
  • Each person that has access to any private information has to take an oath for life of never divulging it in order to protect the persons privacy and confidentiality.
  • To violate this is a serious crime.
  • If someone violates this law, it is a federal crime, punishable severely for either 5 years in prison or a fine of $250,000 or both. 

It is a shame that serious organizations with strong popular support have made this call to not cooperate with the effort that is for the good of all of us.  They foment fear and civil disobedience.  The leaders of these organizations think it is easy to call people to rebel and not cooperate in order to demand rights.  What they seem to miss entirely is that in our democracy, to obtain rights one has to earn them, and one way of doing so is to cooperate in a civic action that will help everyone.

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