Hispanic Groups Plan U.S. Census Boycott | NBC New York

Hispanic Groups Plan U.S. Census Boycott

Group leaders hope plan sparks immigration reform

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    Some groups see a U.S. Census boycott as the only way to spark immigration reform.

    There's a battle brewing between the U.S. Census bureau and illegal immigrants, tired of immigration policy.

    While the U.S. Census Bureau's plans for the 2010 Census have already begun, some Hispanic groups in the country are advising Illegal immigrants to boycott the registry, saying it will effectively tell congress that immigration reform is desperately needed, reports NPR.

    Rev. Miguel Rivera, the head of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, says a third of his congregation, which comprises 16,000 churches in 32 states, are undocumented. He recently told Fox News, that the process is unjust.

    "It doesn't make any sense, in some way it's immoral that we are counting 12 million undocumented immigrants who have no benefits at all financially speaking," said Rivera, who's looking to impact the distribution of close to $300 billion in federal funding to the states.

    Census data, which counts all people regardless of their citizenship status, is used to allocate federal funds for education, housing, health care, transportation and other local needs, with every person counting for roughly $1,000 reports the L.A. Times. The data is also used to assign the 435 seats in the U.S. Senate.

    An effective boycott would not only result in less funding for states, but some congressmen could find themselves with no where to sit.

    "If they don't want lacking of funding for their constituents, maybe losing their seats, at the congressional level, then what they have to do is roll up their sleeves and move forward with comprehensive immigration reform," Rivera told NPR.

    Rivera's initiative has opponents.

    Rev. Luis Cortes, the head of Esperanza, another community organization with its own network of churches, said the census boycott would only hurt themselves.

    "You're going to take a community that has a lot of poor folks, and undocumented people who are not doing well, or are struggling economically, and you're taking resources out of that neighborhood and redistributing them around the rest of the country," he said.

    He's not alone.

    Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, echos Cortes, saying the boycott would backfire.

    "When we boycott the census, we are in essence boycotting schools in our community, and representation in our federal government," said Rodriguez. "For those two reasons alone we need to make sure every single person is accounted for."

    A spokesman for the Census Bureau said he is disappointed with the boycott attempts and said those who boycott could be fined $100 as per the law. Rivera and his people say they are ready to pay and are considering expanding the boycott by asking legal and U.S. citizen Hispanics to also join in the effort.

    The census forms will be arriving in mail boxes, March 2010 and are due back that April.