Some Hispanic advocacy groups are calling for illegal immigrants to boycott the 2010 Census unless immigration laws are changed. The move puts them at odds with leading immigrant rights advocates and creates another hurdle in the Census Bureau's quest to count everyone in the USA.
The National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders, a group that says it represents 20,000 evangelical churches in 34 states, issued a statement this week urging undocumented immigrants not to fill out Census forms unless Congress passes "genuine immigration reform."
Similar grass-roots campaigns are unfolding in Arizona and New Mexico to protest state and local crackdowns on illegal immigrants. Asking immigrants to be counted without giving them a chance to become legal residents counters church teachings, says the Rev. Miguel Rivera, president of the Latino religious coalition.
When the Census counts growing numbers of Hispanics, the counts are often used to support crackdowns on illegal immigrants, he says. About 38% of the churches' 3.4 million members are undocumented, he says. The Census Bureau does not ask people if they are here illegally.
"Our job is to count every single person," says Raul Cisneros, Census spokesman. "We are disappointed that any organization would urge anyone to not participate in the 2010 Census."
Hispanic groups call for Census boycott - USATODAY.com