Tuesday, September 22, 2009


September 20, 2009 No. 75

Focus on Promoting the 2010 Census
News from Capitol Hill
2010 Census "Partner" News
Delay in Release of Some ACS Data
The Rest of the News ...


PLUS: Legislation would require census question on citizenship;
Census Bureau ends ACORN 2010 census partnership;
Revised publication schedule for 2008 ACS data;
House panel to review 2010 census communications plan;

New report highlights importance of census for immigrant communities;
and more.


Latino organizations hold "summit" on Communications Campaign: More than 40 national Latino organizations, U.S. Census Bureau officials, and media companies working on the targeted Latino communications campaign met last week to discuss efforts to promote census participation among Latinos and ways to coordinate messages about the importance of the decennial count. According to a summary of the meeting prepared by the Latino Census Network, attendees talked about fear of government and concerns about data confidentiality; calls for undocumented residents to boycott the 2010 census until Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform; the importance of engaging faith-based institutions in census outreach activities; the implications of anti-immigrant sentiments; and other challenges to achieving an accurate count of Latinos.

The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), a member of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, and Latino Census Network Chairman Angelo Falcon, who serves on the Census Bureau's Advisory Committee on the Hispanic Population, spearheaded the meeting of the Latino Census Communications Group. The September 17 gathering was held at the National Council of La Raza offices in Washington, DC. To sign up for updates from the Latino Census Network, visit the National Institute for Latino Policy web site at www.latinopolicy.org.

All of the Census Bureau's official advisory committees, which are scheduled to hold their regular fall meetings in the coming weeks, will meet jointly on December 9, 2009, to provide final feedback to the agency on the 2010 Census Integrated Communication Campaign.

Expert Census Bureau panel applauds paid media campaign development: An independent panel of marketing and communications experts commended the Census Bureau for using industry and academic "best practices" to create the paid media campaign for the 2010 census. The agency formed the five-member Academic Assessment Panel last spring to "evaluate the methods used to define and develop the communications campaign," according to a Census Bureau press release.

Panel Chairman Dr. Jerome D. Williams, the F.J. Heyne Centennial Professor in Communication, University of Texas, Austin, said in a written statement that "the Census Bureau and [Communications Campaign contractor] DraftFCB team have done an exceptional job and are to be applauded for what has been developed so far under very challenging conditions." He called the crafting of the 2010 Integrated Communications Campaign "fundamentally sound."

2010 Census Publicity Office Chief Raul Cisneros said the expert review during the development phase of the media campaign allowed the Census Bureau to incorporate the panel's recommendations for improvements and revisions before it finalized advertising plans.

Modified ACS materials seek to minimize confusion in 2010: The Census Bureau will revise current materials or add new ones in conducting the American Community Survey (ACS) next year, to help reduce anticipated confusion among households that receive both the ACS questionnaire and 2010 census form. The ACS samples about 250,000 addresses a month, or 3 million a year, collecting a wide range of demographic, social, housing, and economic data previously gathered on the census long form once every ten years. The ACS was first implemented nationwide in 2005.

ACS materials sent to homes in the sample, including a pre-notice letter and at least one questionnaire (unresponsive homes receive a replacement form), will advise recipients that they will be receiving both ACS and decennial census questionnaires in 2010, and that they are required by law to complete both. The agency also will modify packaging for ACS materials next year, using different colors and logos on the envelopes to distinguish them from the 2010 census mail packages.


Senate bill would add citizenship question to decennial census: Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT) introduced legislation that would require the Census Bureau to collect information on citizenship and legal status in the decennial census, in order to remove undocumented residents from the state population totals used for congressional apportionment. The "Fairness in Representation Act" (S. 1688) calls for a "checkbox or other similar option" on the census questionnaire, to determine if respondents are U.S. citizens or legal residents.

In a press statement, Sen. Bennett said it "does not make any sense" for congressional apportionment and representation in the Electoral College "to be determined by a process that unfairly provides the advantage to those communities with high illegal populations." The lawmaker praised the Census Bureau's work but called the apportionment process "broken and unfair."

The proposal, if enacted in its current form, would be effective starting with the 2010 census. It takes several years for the Census Bureau to research, develop, and test its forms for a decennial census, and almost a full year to print and address questionnaires. For the last several decades, the census has included a short form sent to all housing units, and a long form sent to a sample of homes; only the long form included a question on citizenship. The American Community Survey, which is replacing the traditional long form in 2010, asks respondents if they are U.S. citizens.

Article I, section 2, of the U.S Constitution requires a population census every ten years as the basis for allocating seats in the House of Representatives. As modified by the Fourteenth Amendment (section 2), the apportionment is based on "the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed." Congress debated whether "citizens" or "voters" should be the basis for apportionment when it passed the Fourteenth Amendment in 1866, according to a Congressional Research Service review of similar legislative debates on the eve of the 1990 enumeration (LOC/CRS Report No. 88-62A, January 13, 1988). Since then, lawmakers have considered (but not enacted) a number of proposals to amend the Constitution to exclude non-citizens or undocumented residents from the census population counts used for apportionment.

Former Rep. Thomas Ridge (R-PA), ranking member on the census oversight subcommittee at the start of the 1990 census, led a group of Representatives, states, and private organizations in a lawsuit seeking to exclude undocumented residents from the apportionment counts (Ridge v. Verity, 715 F.Supp. 1308, W.D.Penn. 1989); a federal appeals court upheld the lower court's dismissal of the case for lack of standing. More recently, Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) sponsored a resolution (H.J.Res. 11) to amend the Constitution to exclude non-citizens from the apportionment counts derived from the census. The resolution, which has 11 cosponsors, was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, which considers all proposed constitutional amendments.

The Bennett bill, referred to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, had three original cosponsors: Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY).

House oversight panel to evaluate Communications Campaign: The House Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives (Committee on Oversight and Government Reform) will hold a hearing on September 22, 2009, to examine the 2010 Census Integrated Communications Campaign, including "criteria for implementation" and "measurements for success." Census Bureau Director Robert Groves also will provide an update on preparations for the upcoming decennial count. The hearing will start at 2:00PM in Room 2154 Rayburn House Office Building.


Census Bureau ends ACORN's 2010 census partnership: Census Director Robert Groves told the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) that the agency was terminating its Partnership Agreement with the nonprofit organization, citing criteria for determining whether a group can serve effectively as a booster for the 2010 count. The director said in a September 11 letter that "ACORN's affiliation with 2010 Census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 census efforts."

Dr. Groves said the Census Bureau did not "come to this decision lightly," citing the agency's initial hope that ACORN could help encourage census participation among hard-to-count populations, such as the poor, renters, and people whose primary language is not English.

ACORN's participation in the Partnership Program drew significant criticism from Republicans in Congress. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) delayed a vote on Dr. Groves' nomination to be Census Director based, in part, on their concerns about ACORN's role as a 2010 census partner. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), ranking member on the House census oversight subcommittee, urged the Census Bureau to end the agreement last spring. In a statement calling the director's recent action "welcome news," Rep. McHenry praised Dr. Groves' "courage" for terminating its relationship with ACORN and said he was "sure there are those in the Obama Administration who will not be happy" with the decision.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the senior Republican on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee (of which the census subcommittee is a part), said, "ACORN's partisan election efforts and its involvement in criminal conduct rightly disqualify it from working on the non-partisan mission of the Census to accurately and honestly count the U.S. population." The congressman said that congressional redistricting and the allocation of federal funds would have been affected "[h]ad ACORN been allowed to submit fraudulent information to the Census." A description of the Partnership Program on the Census Bureau's web site says that partner organizations "are not Census employees and have no responsibility for counting, collecting or processing census data."

Community-based organizations, schools, businesses, state and local governments, and other groups may sign a "partnership agreement" with the Census Bureau, promising to be "advocates for census cooperation and participation," according to guidelines for the Partnership Program. A description of the selection process says that partners should be "visible and trusted voices in the communities they serve." Partner organizations are asked to consider a wide range of activities that would promote cooperation with the census, including displaying and distributing materials, volunteering at Census Bureau events, inviting Census Bureau staff to speak at conferences and meetings, helping to translate census materials, providing space to test job applicants, and serving as a Questionnaire Assistance Center or Be Counted site.

Partnership Program staff may decline to select organizations as 2010 census partners, according to the guidelines, if applicants "are not trusted or are viewed negatively within the community" or "could distract from the Census Bureau's mission," among other reasons. More than 80,000 national and local organizations have signed partnership agreements in support of the 2010 census; there were about 140,000 partners during the 2000 census.

Asian American advocacy group launches census campaign: The Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), a member of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, has launched a national campaign to mobilize the Asian American community in support of the 2010 census. The effort, which includes partnerships with eight local organizations in areas with significant Asian American populations, will rely on media outreach, community education, and social networking to highlight the importance of census participation. AAJC will translate many of its census campaign materials, such as fact sheets and toolkits, into 15 languages.

To access AAJC's census campaign materials, visit www.asianamericancensus.org.


The Census Bureau will release 2008 American Community Survey (ACS) one-year estimates on poverty, family income, and food stamp recipients a week later than planned after discovering a coding error that affected tabulation of the data. The agency said the mistake affected approximately ten percent of the data tables, which it will now publish on September 29. All other data for the roughly 7,000 jurisdictions with a population of 65,000 or greater will be available on September 22, as originally planned. Three-year ACS estimates, for areas with a population of 20,000 or greater, will be released on October 27.

The coding mistake involved new check-box options for children and in-laws in the 2008 ACS relationship question; the tabulation of data on family income (which in turn affects poverty and food stamp receipt calculations) failed to account for income from these sources. Members of the press were notified of the problem late last week, when the Census Bureau was scheduled to release the full set of one-year data to the media on an embargoed basis. For more information on the annual ACS data release, see the September 6, 2009 Census News Brief (#73).


Report highlights importance of count of undocumented residents: The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy has issued a report analyzing the benefits of counting undocumented residents accurately in the decennial census. The self-described "progressive" Institute concludes in "The Next Economic Imperative: Undocumented Immigrants and the 2010 Census" that, "Failing to gather accurate information about an estimated 12 million undocumented residents will make it too difficult for the country to recover from the worst recession in decades: local and state governments won't receive adequate funding for public services; businesses will be discouraged from investing in new markets and creating jobs in growing communities; costly mistakes will be made in infrastructure, education, and health care because of incomplete demographic data."

The nonprofit think tank also has drafted talking points to help immigrant advocates and other groups discuss the importance of counting immigrants. For a copy of the report and the talking points, visit the organization's web site at http://www.drummajorinstitute.org/library/report.php?ID=98

Census Project blog tackles key 2010 census policy and operational issues: The Census Project launched a new weekly blog to follow final preparations for and implementation of the 2010 decennial census. If you would like to receive new posts each week via e-mail, click here http://feedburner.google.com/fb/a/mailverify?uri=censusblog&loc=en_US to sign up, or click here http://twitter.com/censusproject to follow us on Twitter.

Census News Briefs are prepared by Terri Ann Lowenthal, an independent legislative and policy consultant specializing in the census and federal statistics. All views expressed in the News Briefs are solely those of the author. Please direct questions about the information in this News Brief to Ms. Lowenthal at TerriAnn2K@aol.com. Please feel free to circulate this document to other interested individuals and organizations. Ms. Lowenthal is a consultant to the nonpartisan Census Project, organized by the Communications Consortium Media Center in Washington, DC. Previous Census News Briefs are posted at www.thecensusproject.org.


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