Although the numbers are
impressive, city officials and political activists maintained that not everyone was
The US Census Bureau has admitted that their numbers were off by a net 3.3
The population of Queens is growing but city officials and
activists contend that not everyone has been counted.
Tribune Photo by Ira Cohen
"We believe we did better than expected, but we still feel that
we were undercounted by some 200,000," Borough President Claire Shulman told the Tribune.
"I welcome immigration and the tremendous mix of ethnic cultures, but
what we need now are federal dollars to build schools and inrastructure and to provide the
quality medical care to fill the needs of those residents," Shulman said.
"Everybody will have a discrepancy on not being fairly counted,
[but], its fair to say that the Latinos were not fairly counted. We are still not in
the power base," said Alice Cordona of the group 100 Puerto Rican Women in Queens.
Attorney Glenn Magpantay and Democracy Project Director of the Asian
American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) said he was delighted to see the Asian
growth in Queens and believes that the population expansion will definitely give the
community a stronger platform for advocating political and social issues that plague them.
Magpantay said it is his belief that there was an inaccurate count.
Since New York has the nations second
largest Asian population, the impact of the undercount could be more serious for Asian New
"Only with the corrected census figures
can we ensure fair redistricting process where racial and ethnic minorities have full and
fair opportunity to elect candidates of their choice, as guaranteed by the Voting Rights
Act," said Magpantay.
AALDEF has received at least 500 complaints of
individuals who did not get census forms in the mail.
Also, some immigrants complained that they had
to speak English to find Census Centers to get help in filling out the forms in Asian
AALDEF has joined with the boroughs of
Brooklyn, Bronx and Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, Manhattan Borough President
C. Virginia Fields and the city of Los Angeles in a lawsuit contending that Secretary of
Commerce Don Evans refusal to release the statistically corrected 2000 census data
is a violation of the Census Act since the secretary had already ruled that the use of
such data is "feasible".
If won, the ongoing suit would put the power
of how population counts are done, back in the hands of the Census Bureau.
By The Census?
Candice Sandy, spokesperson for Southeast
Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks, told the Tribune that the adjusted Census numbers could
result in a shortfall of services and funding for the district.
Federal budgets are allocated per person., and
Southeast Queens did not have a high participation rate for Census 2000.
Thereby Southeast Queens, along with other
minority areas, will not get their fair share of funding for schools and daycare among
other programs if the lawsuit is not won.
In correcting the census data, the process of
"sampling" is employed.
But some in immigrant communities were wary of
answering when government workers came knocking.
Employment of the sampling method would entail
a head count of the household and a formula used to adjust the data.
According to Congressman Joe Crowleys
office, the central administration did not use this data.
Advocate groups are using this opportunity to
point out the needs that should be addressed such as education and overcrowding in
schools, local healthcare and English and Second Language programs.
Arturo Ignacio Sanchez a professor of
Immigration Law at Barnard College sat on the Latin Advisory Committee on Census 2000 also
affirms that there was a "severe undercount."
He said that policies were made to make
bilingual material readily available, but the majority of times that was not the case.
The process of hiring bilingual workers was
"wanton" and the committee had to push hard for a Latino liaison in Jackson
Sanchez said he believes that there will
definitely be more resources in the borough but has reservations on how they will be
distributed through political criteria.
"Well have very little to say on
how those resources will be distributed," he told the Tribune.
Hiram Monserrate, district leader and
president of Latino Action Center for Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst expressed his
concern for the misrepresentation of the Hispanic community in Queens.
His group launched an extensive campaign with
sixty volunteers, including assisting at Questionaire Assistance Centers, called QAC sites
with census forms.and encouraging many to participate in the census.
Last year, "There was a lack of real
effort and outreach, even though there were a lot of posters and ads, there was a lack of
grass roots outreach which is very important and crucial. Its important to reach
immigrant communities," Monserrate said.
"Hispanics are the fastest growing group,
yet theyre undereported. I suppport the efforts of President Ferrer and the
AALDEF... the resources benefit the entire state, if theyre undercounted
Joon Park, Chairperson of the New York and New
Jersey Korean American Census Task Force, said, "In 1990, very few new about the
census but in 2000 everyone knows about the census, our community is united," said
Joon Park, chairperson of the New York and New Jersey Korean American Census Task Force.
"The Census bureau nominated sites with a
lot of traffic, like Korean grocery stores and libraries, but there were not enough forms
for people to fill out. Theres a lot of trial and error by the Census bureau and not
enough knowledge," said Park.
Unfortunately, according to Park, the Census
took these forms away after only, "one week and they also ran out of forms."
When they called to complain, Park said,
the Census bureau told the Task Force, "its our policy and we have our
The Census bureau also created, QAC sites, but
they had "administration related mistakes," according to Park.
These sites were set up for people to come in
and get information about the census.
"People would stop in and there was not
enough staff, and no telephone system."
Even the 1-800 hotline numbers, that were
bilingual catering to the Asian community were "not fully aware of what was going
on," Park said.