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For Immediate Release:
Contact: Clark Reid
(301) 457-5088

Hispanic Newspaper Executives Hear Count Concerns Regarding Census 2000

CHICAGO – U.S. Census Monitoring Board Congressional Member A. Mark Neuman told members of the Federation of Hispanic Owned Newspapers meeting here Friday for the 7th International Hispanic Media Conference he is concerned that there is a lack of a clear strategy by the Census Bureau to meet the needs of linguistically isolated communities, including Hispanics, in the 2000 Census.

“The members of the Monitoring Board believe that the number one goal of the 2000 Census is to reduce the differential undercount of minority populations.  And we believe that an accurate census is the number one civil rights issue of the year 2000,” he said.  “The differential undercount of low-income, urban and rural minority communities must be reduced because political representation and vital government funding are determined by the census.”

Nearly five million people were missed in the 1990 Census.  They were disproportionately Hispanic, African-American, Asian American and Native American.  More than half were children.  They lived in such hard-to-count areas as barrios, inner-city neighborhoods, on reservations and in remote rural areas.  The Bureau has identified 2,600 such hard-to-count neighborhoods throughout the country for Census 2000.

“The Census Bureau has a good plan for counting 95 percent of the population,” Neuman told the Hispanic newspaper executives.  “But we [the Congressional Members of the Board] are concerned that the Bureau still does not have an effective strategy to count the last five percent of the population that is in hard-to-count neighborhoods.”

“The Administration says their plan is already set in stone and it is too late to change anything,” said Neuman, who was Director of Congressional Affairs at the Census Bureau during the 1990 Census and the agency’s highest-ranking Hispanic official. “Well, we disagree with the Director of the Census Bureau.  We think there is still time to make improvements.”

Several of the recommendations made by the Congressional Members of the Board include sending a duplicate Spanish-language mailing to the neighborhoods that the Bureau knows are almost exclusively Spanish-speaking, removing barriers to hiring people from hard-to-count neighborhoods to help count their neighbors, granting waivers that would allow those receiving Food Stamps and residing in public housing to be hired as temporary Census workers without losing their benefits, and dedicating a portion of the $4.7 billion Census 2000 budget to ensure a more fair and accurate count of those 2,600 hard-to-count neighborhoods.

“The Bureau says it is too late to do these things – even in the small number of neighborhoods where this matters most,” said Neuman.  “We disagree, and we are going to fight for what we think is right, because we think ensuring fair political representation, the most fundamental right of every American, is worth fighting for.”

The full text of Mr. Neuman’s remarks to the Federation is available at www.cmbc.gov.

Remarks of A. Mark Neuman to Federation of Hispanic Owned Newspapers meeting in Chicago