2009-11-18 / Features

Marshall Urges All Queens Residents To Be Counted In 2010 Census

BY JOHN TOSCANO

With an eye toward getting the census count in Queens next year as accurate as possible, Borough President Helen Marshall has appointed a Complete Count Committee. It met for the first time last week at Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.

Marshall was joined at the meeting by Ligia Jaquez, U.S. Census Bureau Deputy Regional Director and Stacey Cumberbatch, NYC Census 2010 coordinator.

Former Congressmember Rev. Floyd Flake of the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral, spoke on the importance of the 2010 Census. Other speakers included Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, a grassroots organization that formulates strategies to combat inequality and economic injustice, and S.I. Jung, president of the Munkwon Center for Community Action in Flushing.

Stressing the importance of an accurate census count for Queens, Marshall said in her opening remarks, “The 2010 Census will determine our country’s representation in the U.S. Congress and state legislature for the next 10 years and help to determine where to allocate more than $300 billion in federal funding for major services, including health care, education and transportation.”

According to past practice, the Census Bureau counts every person, citizens and noncitizens alike. But presently in Congress there is a debate going on over whether that practice will continue or noncitizens will not be counted.

In a recent New York Times story, it was reported that a Republican senator has proposed counting only U.S. citizens when reapportioning Congress, which would hurt states with high populations of non citizens. Under the GOP proposal, New York would lose one seat, the story said.

At Marshall’s meeting, according to her news release, Jaquez pointed out,” A key component of the Complete Count Committee’s efforts is to allay fear, particularly among undocumented immigrants and people living in overcrowded housing, and reinforce that under federal law, the personal information collected by the Census Bureau is entirely confidential and cannot be shared with any federal, state or city agency.”

But, Marshall noted, “Even when we lower the fear ratio, here in Queens— America’s most diverse county—we face unique challenges fueled by a multitude of languages spoken in a multicultural society.”

Speaking on behalf of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Cumberbatch thanked Marshall for focusing on the critically important issue of the 2010 Census. “The NYC 2010 Census office looks forward to working with her office and the Complete Count Committee to ensure that all Queens residents are fully and accurately counted in the 2010 Census,” she said.

Marshall pointed out that 10 years ago, in the 2000 Census, the borough’s response to a mail-in questionnaire was a meager 54 percent, 13 percent below the national average of 67 percent.

“Today, to help ensure that this does not happen again, I have assembled a committee of trusted and respected leaders who will share outreach strategies and, among other things, create a multi-lingual speakers bureau to spread the word of how important the census is in all our futures,” she added.

She thanked the U.S. Census Bureau, the NYC Census Coordinator and all the other community leaders in attendance for their combined efforts to raise the number of residents who will be counted in the 2010 Census.

Marshall concluded by noting that although census forms, “the shortest in the history of the Census Bureau”, will not be arriving in mailboxes until March 1, “I call on every Queens resident to stand up and be counted in the 2010 Census.”

In a related development, Marshall said that the U.S. Census Bureau is currently hiring individuals for a wide range of positions, including census takers, crew leaders and census clerks. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and must pass a written test. Anyone interested can call 866-861-2010 or 347-967-4020, Monday through Friday between 5 and 9 p.m. for more information or on weekends between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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