Encouraging Latinos to fill-out Census 2010 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Encouraging Latinos to fill-out Census 2010

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Census 2010 forms are being mailed out across the country. Most Americans will get their Census forms in the mail between Monday and Wednesday.

National and local governments have identified typically undercounted groups; one group is immigrants, especially Hispanic and Latino populations. In Dubuque, groups are trying to target the undercounted and make sure they fill out this year's form.

Each Sunday, Saint Patrick's Catholic Church has Spanish-language mass, and each recent Sunday, Dora Serna has talked to parishioners about the census.

"I try to educate. Tell them what it's about, the census. Why it's very important," Serna said.

Originally from Colombia, Serna works with the local census committee to reach out to the Latino community. She says fear stops many people from filling out the form.

"Some of them don't feel secure. They think that many people can approach the information. They don't want to do that," Serna said.

Serna talks about the government's guarantee for safety and privacy. Federal law prohibits the Census Bureau and its workers from sharing the information with anyone, including immigration officials. Serna says the May 2008 immigration raid in Postville will make data collection even tougher this year.

 

"Based on the information they give, they put on the census, they feel it's not secure. Their families could be apart, and they don't want to be deported," Serna said.

Just blocks away from St. Patrick's is the Presentation Lantern Center where Sister Corine Murray is also helping calm census fears.

"For some of them, learning about the census and what is being asked of them is the hurdle. For other people, making sure they feel safe," Murray said.

The Lantern Center helps people from around the world adjust to American life. Right now, part of that is being counted, in America.

"Helping people feel comfortable and safe will be encouraging steps to fill out the census form," Murray said.

"I try to say it's important not only for us, for our kids, for the future," Serna said.

The U.S. Census Bureau offers the census form in 59 languages, and they have free telephone help in several languages, including Spanish.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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