May 19, 2009

Schumer, Gillibrand, Clarke Propose Caribbean Checkbox to Ensure More Accurate, Precise 2010 Census

As One of the Largest Immigrant Groups, New Yorkers of Caribbean Descent Have Expressed Their Frustration at Not Being Precisely Represented on Census

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced historic legislation that calls for Caribbean nationals to have their own origins check box on the U.S. Census form.  The Caribbean community in New York City has expressed frustration at the absence of a Caribbean checkbox since the group represents a large portion of the population. The Caribbean Count Bill would require all questionnaires used in the 2010 census to include a checkbox so that respondents may indicate Caribbean extraction or descent. Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke is sponsoring the House version of the bill.

“New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world and must be fully represented in the census,” Schumer said. “Including this checkbox would surely provide better representation of our great city and its Caribbean American population. New Yorkers of Caribbean descent are an essential part of the New York City population and they deserve to be accurately counted.”

“It’s time to make sure all New Yorkers are counted fairly and accurately in the census,” Senator Gillibrand said. “New York’s Caribbean community contributes so much to our economy, our diverse culture and the way of the life that makes New York the great state it is. By failing to recognize Caribbean families in our census data, we are failing to obtain a true picture of the people, families and communities that make up New York and all of America. It’s time to make this important change.”

“I want to commend Senators Gillibrand and Schumer for demonstrating great leadership by introducing the Senate companion to HR 2071: Caribbean Count Bill,” said Rep. Yvette D. Clarke.   “Census Day is less than a year away, and it is imperative that every household participate in order to ensure an accurate count.  Data generated by the Census is used to help equitably distribute federal funding from a wide range of government sources. A higher response rate from the Caribbean immigrant community would help ensure that more public resources are available to all New Yorkers.” 
Clarke continued, “the bill does not call for an additional race category, but rather a self-identifying ancestry category/national origin in order to get a more accurate count of people of Caribbean descent living in the United States.” 

The legislation proposed by Schumer and Gillibrand states that in conducting the 2010 decennial census and every decennial census thereafter, the Secretary of Commerce shall include, in any questionnaire distributed or otherwise used for the purpose of determining the total population by states, a checkbox or other similar option by which respondents may indicate Caribbean extraction or descent. 

The House version of the bill is being sponsored by Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke.