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A Dangerous Boycott

La Opinin, Editorial, Staff Posted: May 12, 2009

Sometimes the best intentions end up being the most damaging when they are misguided. This is the case of the census boycott promoted by an organization of Christian churches.

The National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) is encouraging the Latino community not to participate in next years census. The group claims that the information collected will subsequently be used against the interviewed participants, in this case, the undocumented.

This is not true, because the data collected are kept confidential; there is no evidence indicating otherwise. The cases of anti-immigrant ordinances in some parts of the country do not arise because of census data, but rather due to a growing presence of Latinos in regions unaccustomed to their presence. The census has nothing to do with this.

It has even less to do with immigration reform. Nevertheless, the Coalition makes the unusual political argument connecting the census boycott with the approval of reform. Its members say that there is no need to participate in the census until reform is passed and the boycott is an instrument of pressure.
What a dangerous mistake! The proposal by this coalition of churches verges on political suicide. It is like saying: "If reform is not passed, we will disappear!" It is a grave mistake to mix the census with legislation, even a bill legalizing millions.

Each decades headcount is used to update the allocation of federal money to communities based on their population numbers. It also redistributes political power by adjusting electoral districts to the new demographic reality. If Latinos do not participate, their communities will not receive the funding they deserve, or the political recognition.

It is ironic that at the same time CONLAMIC is promoting non-participation in the census, there are conservative groups that want to exclude the undocumented from the count. The two groups intentions are diametrically opposed, but the result of creating a ghost population is the same.

We hope the Coalition will reconsider a strategy that, while claiming to want to help, ends up being tremendously damaging to the Latino community. Census information has been and continues to be confidential. It is time to stand up and be counted.

Related Articles:

Latino Church Leaders Split on Census Boycott

Ethnic Media to Play Critical Role in 2010 Census

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