May 19, 2009

Schumer, Gillibrand, Rangel Propose Dominican Checkbox to Ensure More Accurate, Precise 2010 Census

Checkbox Would Better Represent Diversity, Encourage Higher Census Participation in the Latino Community, and Help to Achieve a Fuller Count in the 2010 Census

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand introduced legislation requiring the 2010 census to include a checkbox so that respondents may check off Dominican descent. The Dominican community in New York City has expressed frustration at the absence of a Dominican checkbox since the group represents a large portion of the entire Hispanic population. On the 2000 census, respondents had the option to check off, Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano; other Spanish, Hispanic, Latino; Puerto Rican; or Cuban. While the respondent has the option to write in their ‘other’ Spanish, Hispanic, Latino background, the format is confusing. The Dominican checkbox would better represent the full diversity of New York City, as well as encourage higher census participation in the Latino community and represent a move towards a full Hispanic count in the 2010 census. On March 12, Congressman Charles Rangel introduced H.R. 1504, 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 Hispanic population. New Yorkers of Dominican 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,” Gillibrand said. “New York’s Dominican community contributes so much to our economy, our diverse culture and our way of life in New York. Ignoring these contributions in our census data is wrong and prevents us from obtaining a true picture of the people, families and communities of our state. It’s time to make this important change.”
 
"The Census has a huge effect on how services are determined and how money is distributed to communities, not just by the various levels of government, but also private foundations and other grant makers," said Congressman Rangel. "We owe it to the Dominican community -- all communities --to do all that we can to assure an accurate count. This bill helps do that."
 
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 Dominican extraction or descent.
 
While the undercount rate for Hispanics on the 2000 census was only 3.48% nationwide, the new checkbox on the census form will be a big step towards ensuring that all New York City Hispanics are counted and that the diversity of New York City is fully represented.
 
The House version of the bill is being sponsored by Congressman Charles Rangel.