`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 Caribbean extraction or descent,` states the bill.
Congresswoman Clarke said, as a daughter of Caribbean immigrants herself, she is especially `proud of the measure and sees `it as a great accomplishment.`
`We introduced a bill which would draw attention to the 2010 census to help get the message out and help ensure the hard to count population are reached,` the congresswoman told CaribWorldNews Thursday. `It would push to provide an origins check box to allow Caribbeans and those with ancestry to check that category. We examined the form and found this to be lacking. Being specific on the Census form will allow the federal government to be able to allocate resource to communities of Caribbean nationals and their descendants.`
The congresswoman, who last weekend was part of a group of Congressional members invited to accompany President Barack Obama on his first trip to the Caribbean and Mexico since he took the Oath of Office Congress to Trinidad and Tobago for the 5th Summit of the Americas from April 17 – 18, 2009, credited Persaud, Chuck Mohan and Irwine Clare for really making the case for such a measure given the vast growth of the Caribbean Diapsora in the U.S.
Persaud added that the Clarke bill gives the Caribbean community renewed impetus to ensure they lobby around this cause and most importantly, fill out and return the 2010 Census form, especially by writing in their country of origin under question 8. The origin’s category is not an ethnic category so this will not divide the black or Asian or any other ethnic group that may perceive this as a `divide and rule` strategy, Persaud added.
`Caribbean nationals can now feel they are part of the process,` said Walters, but warned Caribbean nationals and Caribbean Americans to mobilize around the census and realize the importance of `our community being counted accurately as a bloc.`
Congresswoman Clarke said the hard work starts now to get support from other congressional members and to build a the collation on the Hill to boost support and make the proposal a reality.
`Regardless of where they reside, Caribbean nationals should contact their representatives to become sponsors of the bill and start a letter writing campaign to the speaker and chair of the Government Reform Committee.`
In explaining the process, the congresswoman also said a senator is now needed to introduce a similar legislation in the Senate.
The bill will soon be given a number and then be passed to the Sub-committee for Information Policy, Census and National Archives, headed by Congressman Lacy Clay.
It will then be passed to the full reform committee and then on to the House for a full vote.
The Census, taken every 10 years since 1790, determines how more than $300 billion in federal funding are allocated to states and communities to pay for highway construction, education, Medicaid, hospitals, child-care and senior citizen centers, housing and more. Census data are also used to determine the number of congressional seats each of the 50 states will have and is used by corporations to determine advertising buys and sponsorships and by non-profit groups to determine funding possibilities. For more on CARIBID and getting involved in the movement to get Caribbean nationals counted, log on to www.caribid2010.com.