National Hispanic Group Is Wrong About the Census

Boycotting Census Is Bad for Hispanics, for the Country and for Marketing

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Bill Imada Bill Imada
On May 31, Los Angeles Times staff writer Teresa Watanabe published a story titled "Latino Group Urges Census Snub." According to the article, the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, a Washington organization claiming to represent 20,000 Latino charities in 34 states, maintained that one-fourth of its 4 million members were prepared to join a national boycott of Census 2010. I was floored.

Some of this national organization's leaders allegedly believe a boycott will pressure government leaders and elected officials to work toward legislation to legalize the millions of undocumented Latinos living in the U.S. If this group's efforts succeed, more than 1 million Latinos and other undocumented immigrants could go uncounted in this country.

While the plight of the undocumented in this country is a national travesty, even the hint of a boycott of Census 2010 is a monumental mistake that must be addressed immediately. The Latino community, which includes a large number of Hispanic-owned and -operated advertising agencies, must work to educate this national coalition and its leaders that a boycott of the census will have the opposite effect of what they hope to achieve.

The census is critical to all communities because the data that are collected are used extensively by federal, state and local governments to determine the allocation of resources. These resources include funds that help build infrastructure such as schools, highways, hospitals, parks and clinics. Additionally, census data help determine representation in government. Without a full and accurate count of all residents, states won't achieve adequate representation in Congress and in state houses.

Marketing implications
The advertising industry also depends heavily on census data to determine how to effectively target and reach consumers in this country, including the large and growing number of ethnic consumers. Without a full and accurate count of Hispanics, Asians, blacks, Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, Alaska Natives, women, et al., corporations and governmental agencies will have to rely on other sources exclusively to determine how to allocate their marketing, advertising and media budgets. The census offers us the best and most reliable source of demographic information in the country.

We cannot stand by and allow any entity to impede our efforts to secure a full and accurate count of all residents. With heightened concerns about the confidentiality and security of the census, any talk about boycotting it is counterproductive. Instead, what should be addressed are the facts about the census.

Charitable organizations such as the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders have more to lose by encouraging a boycott than what they expect to gain. Numbers count, but only when people participate and make their presence known.

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