Posted by Audiegrl
Associated Press/Amy Taxin—When Teresa Ocampo opens her census questionnaire, she won’t have to worry about navigating another document in English.
The 40-year old housewife who only speaks basic English will be able to fill hers out in Spanish – which is exactly what U.S. officials were banking on when they decided to mail out millions of bilingual questionnaires next year.
For the first time, the decennial census will be distributed in the two languages to 13.5 million households in predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods. Latino advocates hope the forms will lead to a more accurate count by winning over the trust of immigrants who are often wary of government and may be even more fearful after the recent surge in immigration raids and deportations.
“If the government is reaching out to you in a language you understand, it helps build trust,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “I think the community has become really sensitive to political developments, and the census is the next step in this movement that we’re seeing of civic engagement in the Latino community.”
Traditionally, experts say, the Census Bureau has undercounted minority and immigrant communities, who are harder to reach because of language barriers and distrust of government.
Latino advocates hope the bilingual forms will help show their strength in numbers to underscore their growing political influence and garner more in federal funds that are determined by population.