Rep. Yvette D. Clarke introduced the Caribbean Count Bill (H.R. 2071), an historic bill that calls for Caribbean nationals to have their own origins check box on the U.S. Census form. It calls for all questionnaires used in the taking of any decennial census of the U.S. population, to include a checkbox or other similar option be included so that respondents may indicate Caribbean extraction or descent.
“Every household in the country will receive a census questionnaire in 2010, and now is the time to stand up and be counted, said Rep. Clarke. “We want to ensure an accurate and fair count of all populations at all geographic levels in the nation, so I am encouraging everyone to fill out the entire form and send it in. By completing your questionnaire you are providing data that will help your nation, your state and your community make major decisions over the next 10 years.”
The bill has been supported by Carib ID, a movement to get Caribbean nationals counted and their own origins category listed in the census. President and Founder of Carib ID, Felicia Persaud said, “this is truly an extraordinary step by our own Caribbean American Congresswoman, who truly understands the struggles of the Caribbean community across the U.S., which continues to be dismissed simply because we have no means of accurately counting our bloc.”
“Respect comes from census numbers and until you are truly recognized and accurately counted by the U.S. Census, the growth of this vibrant group and its potential will never be truly realized. We see this as the first step in the battle to get this category, but one that is truly significant,” Persaud concluded.
Ann Walters, Director of CaribID for Washington, D.C., added “having this bill introduced by Congresswoman Clarke is putting us in the right direction for changes for the next census.”
“Caribbean nationals can now feel they are part of the process,” said Walters. We must also mobilize around the census and realize the importance of our community being counted accurately as a bloc.
The bill will be referred to the Government Reform Committee.
H.R. 2071- Caribbean Count Bill
This bill requires that a checkbox or other similar option be included so that respondents may indicate Caribbean extraction or descent in the questionnaires used in the taking of any decennial census of population.
This bill is important to the District because:
· It draws attention to the significance of the 2010 U.S. census to the Caribbean community, which because of cultural sensitivities and other factors can sometimes be reluctant to complete the forms.
· Census Day is less than a year away, and it is imperative that every household participate in order to ensure an accurate count.
· Today, data generated by the census is used not only to determine voter representation, but also to help equitably distribute federal funding from a wide range of government programs.
Census data is an invaluable resource to private industry, helping businesses make sensible decisions about how and where to expand their capital. An accurate count of the Caribbean community will highlight their purchasing power and economic impact both in the U.S. and global markets.