April 18, 2009

Latino Evangelical Leaders Call for a Boycott of Census 2010: Urging Immigration Reform First

Washington, DC - Latino Pastors from throughout the nation, members of the National Coalition of Latino Clergy & Christian Leaders (CONLAMIC) call upon the estimated 30% undocumented members of their churches to boycott the Census until Congress and the new administration pass a comprehensive solution to immigration reform that includes a path to legalization for an estimated 12 million undocumented people.

"Our church leaders have witnessed misuse of otherwise benign Census population data by state and local public officials in their efforts to pass and enact laws that assist in the perpetration of civil rights violations and abuses against undocumented workers and families,” said Reverend Miguel Rivera, Chairman of CONLAMIC.

As a result of the lack of action by Congress, undocumented people, the majority Hispanic, have been forced back into the shadows in the recent years due to new state and local laws that allow law enforcement to detain and deport any person who is suspected and proved to be illegally residing in the U.S. Most of the individuals and families affected have been non-threatening, otherwise law abiding, hardworking people whose lives have been devastated. Churches have become one of the few trusted places to turn to for these immigrants.

“We cannot tell our undocumented congregants to be patient, cooperative, and to trust our government any longer. We must protect them as God would have it and urge them to protect their families from any further mistreatment,” said Rev. Miguel Rivera.

The Census Bureau has launched its efforts to count each person in America in 2010, including the traditionally undercounted Hispanic population. As many national Latino advocacy organizations join the effort to assist in educating Latinos about the importance of participating in the count – CONLAMIC pastors support the effort but not in the efforts to count undocumented individuals.

A Fordham University report confirmed that the U.S. Census Bureau provided detailed information about individual Japanese Americans from the 1940 census to American surveillance agencies during World War II. CONLAMIC pastors were shocked to learn that in 2004, it was reported that the Census Bureau provided to the Department of Homeland Security comprehensive reports listing Arab Americans populations by city and zip code.

“As Americans, we must remain vigilant in the protection of our civil liberties, as leaders of the church, it's our responsibility to protect the members of our churches and until we are certain that breaches of confidentiality against racial and ethnic minority groups are not repeated, we will not urge the most vulnerable members of our congregations to come out of the shadows and voluntarily report their personal data to the Census Bureau,” said Rev. Rivera.

“The workplace raids, family and community devastation, and deportation of harmless workers by Homeland Security, ICE, and local law enforcement have undermined the public trust and discouraged minority groups, which are already difficult to count, from participating in census surveys. We call upon Congress and our President to take swift action to bring a comprehensive solution to the immigration problem,” concluded Rev. Rivera.

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