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#2557: Haitians urged to aid census (fwd)


Published Sunday, February 27, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
 Haitians urged to aid census BY CHARLES RABIN

 The last time the government took a census, in 1990, officials estimate
they accounted for more than 98 percent of the U.S. population. The
Haitian community, however, was grossly under-counted, perhaps by as
 much as 33 percent, U.S. Census officials believe. Among the reasons: a
general fear of the government, and the inability of many Haitians to
read the census forms. The forms, which will be mailed out before April
1, are only in Spanish and English -- not Creole.  As part of an effort
to make sure Haitians aren't undercounted this time, J. Kenneth
Blackwell, co-chair of the U.S. Census Monitoring Board, was in town
 Friday to spread the word to community leaders about the importance of
being counted.  Blackwell said some Haitians fear information given to
the Census Bureau will be passed along to other agencies like the
Immigration and Naturalization Service. ``People have a basic suspicion
or fear against government, and that the information will be used
against them,'' Blackwell said.  Blackwell took a brief walking tour of
the Little Haiti community Friday with some aides, stopping at the
Center For Haitian Studies to learn about the community
 and to stress the importance of answering census questions.

 ``Being counted in the census means fair representation and a fair
share of resources,'' he said. ``To make sure there are ample classrooms
in the community, for example, we need an accurate count.''  Later in
the day he met with about a dozen Haitian religious leaders, Miami City
 Commissioner Arthur Teele Jr. and state Rep. Rudy Garcia, R-Hialeah, at
the Episcopal Church of St. Paul et Les Martyrs D'Haiti, 6744 N. Miami
Ave.  About a dozen residents showed up at the meeting. 
 Blackwell, former mayor of Cincinnati, said the government will spend
$7 billion executing the census, and about $168 million in advertising.
 Badly needed, said Blackwell, are workers to translate the census for
Creole speakers. Garcia said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is committed to
increasing the membership of the state's Complete Count Committee to
include representatives of the Haitian community. He also said Bush will
present a bill to the House soon that will make it easier for residents
to apply for a census job, which pays between $8.50 and $22.50 an hour.
 ``Those receiving federal or local aid in this community, we will find
a way to make sure it will not discredit them if they work for the
census,'' Garcia said.  Carline Paul, a disc jockey for two weekly
youth-oriented radio shows for the Haitian community, said the best way
to pass along information is through children.``The youth are the ones
who are going to guide their parents,'' she said. 

 Anyone interested in working for the Census Bureau should call