Local leaders urge census participation - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local leaders urge census participation

WATERLOO (KWWL) - In March, census forms will be mailed to every U.S. home.  If you don't mail the 10 question form back, a census worker will pay you a visit.  For many immigrants, legal and illegal, a visit from a government worker can be frightening.  The census is something that can affect government programs, representation, even economic development.  That's why many are trying to get out the word to everyone to make sure they're counted.  It's been 10 years since census workers went door-to-door in neighborhoods all over the country.  In Waterloo, some areas near downtown saw participation of less than 50%.  That's part of the reason there's an effort to make sure everyone is counted this year.

"It's a painless process. It's a very necessary process that if you'll help us, it helps the city and it will inevitably help everyone in the city and state and the country to get accurate counts from the census," said Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark.

Predominately minority neighborhoods see the least participation with the census.  Local leaders want to see that change.

"What we need to do is make sure these minority communities are definitely counted because they're the ones who are impacted the most by not having a voice not being represented," said Rep. Deborah Berry, D-Waterloo.

El Centro Latinoamericano works with the Cedar Valley's Latino community.  It's making an effort to tell undocumented immigrants the census has nothing to do with immigration.

"They're scared. Anybody that comes up to talk to them. They don't know where they're coming from. They don't know the language so you can imagine how scared they are and this is what we're trying to do to help them out," said El Centro Executive Director Carlos Arzu.

Local leaders say an accurate count will help shape policy, influence government programs, and target federal spending.

 Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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