The decennial census is a constitutional requirement, from Article I, section 2: “The actual Enumeration [of states’ populations] shall be made within three Years after.. the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct.”
I have a small logo about the 2010 census on the left side of this website, that’s been up before the count began, and will stay up until it’s over. Although civil libertarians often oppose some of the questions as too intrusive, I support the efforts of the census for Whitewater, particularly.
Those reasons are simple — I don’t think that the 2000 census accurately measured Whitewater’s demographics. I am concerned the same will happen again. Specifically, the number of Hispanic residents is likely significantly greater than published reports.
A high or low number, accurately tallied, should be of no difference to the community; an inaccurate number should be of concern to everyone. We should have long since passed the point when anyone could say that the number of Hispanic families was less than one-in-ten. I’m not sure that it was truly less than that in 2000. It’s impossible — wholly impossible — that it’s not a significantly greater portion now.
One-in-ten, one-in-one-hundred — I don’t care so long as the number’s right. The number hasn’t been right, not close to right, I wouldn’t wonder. An inaccurate, published count describes a Whitewater that does not exist.
I’d rather see things as they are.
As the census also measures poverty, and notably child poverty, an accurate count will be a test of how well the community is faring in its ability to provide a minimal standard of living for its youngest and most vulnerable members.
(I’ve not addressed, in detail, a recent community survey that the City of Whitewater distributed. I’ve read one or two political references to the survey as proof of community contentment, but the strength of those claims depends on the strength of the sample. That’s a topic for another day.)
For more on concerns about the census count in a nearby county, see Wisconsin State Journal: Local [Dane County] Officials Concerned Hispanic Immigrants Will Avoid Census.