It’s all politics: power and money. How do states and local governments get some of the money they need to provide certain services? Well, parts of those funds are provided by the federal government based on information collected by returned letters mailed out to every household address in the United States. It is important that every person is counted by the Census Bureau, and in Miami Gardens, that means that the people hardest to count – Black males between the ages of 18-25 and non-English speakers, primarily Haitian and Spanish speakers – deserve extra attention for full allocation of funds towards our city.
The census seeks to count those who have historically been undercounted. The Census on Campus Campaign attempts to count highly mobile college students living on and off campus. Students living away from home will receive their own questionnaires to prevent being counted twice or not at all. The census is usually mailed out in English only, but it will be sent in English and Spanish to areas with high Spanish speaking populations. For Miami Gardens, that is not the case.
We as neighbors need to speak with our communities and tell how the census is safe to complete and return. We are the most powerful force towards debunking deportation and other myths about participation in the census. The more representation, the more money can be expected by state and local governments by the federal government. Article 1, Section 2 of the United States Constitution says, “Representation and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States… according to their respective Numbers…” The census collects this data to “determine the distribution of Congressional seats to states,” and to “distribute $400 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year,” amongst other things, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Here in Miami Gardens, we need full participation in order to receive our fair share of census dollars.
So the next time you think that the census is unimportant and that you don’t have to participate in it, think about your community and how much more money could become available to your local city council to fix some of the problems that stagnate in your community. You should begin to see questionnaires arrive in your mail in March of 2010. Fill it out, send it back, and help make our city better.