The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) notified the U.S. Census Bureau recently that it shouldn't expect any let-up in the number of workplace raids during the 2010 census.
Around the time of the 2000 census, federal immigration officials gave the Census Bureau some breathing room, reducing the number of raids in the months just before and after the census count so that reliable population numbers could be secured. Nonprofit organizations, churches, school systems and other institutions that serve large numbers of immigrant families were provided with information sheets, stickers, pins and other publicity materials to promote participation in the census.
Many of us in the Latino community made personal assurances to immigrant residents we knew that the census was confidential and that answering the questions honestly was essential to making sure that Wisconsin got its fair share of federal resources and representation.
Many immigrants complied with the 2000 census, giving the interviewers data about their family structure, household income, and other personal topics. The result was a more accurate (i.e., higher) count of the number of people who live in our state and therefore a larger slice of the federal revenue pie for things like education, economic development, administrative services and healthcare.
For the Milwaukee Public Schools, for example, an accurate count of our constituents means that we get more federal Title I dollars and can provide more services that don't depend on the local property tax. Ironically, MPS Title I services have included classes in English as a Second Language and citizenship for parents so that they can better communicate with schools about their children's education.
Of course, soon after the 2000 census was completed, the political landscape changed and immigrants of any sort became the targets of federal fire. The number of raids went through the roof and a whole bunch of…