SACRAMENTO, CA -- Forms for the 2010 U.S. Census will be mailed out in March and well in advance of that, there's a push to make sure everyone returns those forms, particularly Latinos.
"Typically the Latino community is scared, especially if they're undocumented," said Diana Rodriguez of the Sacramento Latino Complete Count Committee. "They'll typically mark 'other' or they'll mark themselves as a different race."
More than 200 local leaders, from elected and faith-based representatives, are getting together Wednesday night to synchronize efforts to count all Latinos in Sacramento. The effort is called: 'It's time to be counted, can we count on you?'
The group says that historically, under-counts have led to California and its economy losing billions of dollars. In Sacramento, an under-count could mean the loss of tens of millions of dollars for education, business, public safety, and health care services.
Rodriguez says the loss is particularly felt when it comes to funding for programs aimed at English learners.
By law, the Census Bureau cannot share census answers with anyone, including the IRS, FBI, CIA or any other government agency. Census workers are sworn to secrecy for life. It's a message Rodriguez hopes everyone hears.
"We need to do more. We need to get the word out there and we need to be more proactive instead of reactive to an after-count of the census," said Rodriguez.
Each of the 10 questions on the U.S. Census form helps to determine how more than $400 billion will be allocated to each community for things like hospitals, bridges, schools, and emergency services. It also helps determine the number of seats each state has in the U.S. House of Representatives.
By Anne Makovec, email@example.com