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A Latino/Church Boycott of the Census? By: Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq.
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, April 30, 2009


Confusion,  uncertainty and suspicion appear to have been competing with one another to confound or compromise the clear Constitutional requirement: Article I. Section 2, Clause 3, which requires that “Representatives [in Congress] shall be apportioned among the several States according to the [the States’] Numbers...[the] actual Enumeration shall be made...within every...Term of ten Years, in such Manner as [Congress] shall by Law direct.”  Section 2 of Amendment XIV requires that “Representatives shall be apportioned among the...States according to their numbers, counting the whole number of persons in Each, excluding Indians not taxed.”

Nowhere does the Constitution, a statute or a judicial decision remotely hint, much less provide, that unlawful immigrants, people who attend certain churches or both are to be excluded from the count.  Tell that to an entity known as the National Coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leaders, which may have some 20,000 members in 34 States. The leadership of that entity has denounced the Census, claiming that Latinos may be scapegoats and a purpose of the Census may be to justify deportation of unlawful immigrants. Thus, intermittent confusion, uncertainty and suspicion now give rise to a thinly veiled intercession of religious freedom.  A real purpose is clear: to avoid a realistic, high illegal-immigrant count.

Fortunately no other sizable Latino or Hispanic church group or other organization has joined in this protest.  The National Association of Latino Elected Officials does not support the boycott.   It may develop, were the protest to be sufficiently successful and publicized, that the protest would backfire by strengthening the legitimate concern of millions of native-born and lawful-immigrant Americans.  Regardless of consequences, the protest adds another major concern as to the accuracy, efficacy and efficiency of the vitally important 2010 Decennial Census.   The protest also may augment concern as to the effects of the inundation of the nation by unlawful immigrants, variously estimated in the 10-12 million range.

A Census Bureau spokesman, one Raul Cisneros, has expressed the disappointment of the Bureau “that any organization would urge anyone...not [to] participate in the 2010 Census.”  The Census Bureau recognizes the problem.  How effective its millions of census-takers will be in overcoming organized boycotting - that is, hiding from census-takers - remains to be seen.  The boycott well may lessen the unlawful-immigrant count.

Meantime, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano evidently plans to enforce the law against only employers who “exploit” unlawful-immigrant workers, not against employers  who pay them good wages and benefits and thus deprive native-born and lawful-immigrant Americans of  jobs in the midst of a major recession.

Marion Edwyn Harrison is President of, and Counsel to, the Free Congress Foundation.


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