Hispanics now have the opportunity to showcase their growing role as the future “majority minority,” according to U.S. Census officials.
The U.S. Census Bureau officially opened their office with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Wells Fargo building on the corner of McColl and Trenton roads on Dec. 21. The opening officially begins preparations for localized recruiting efforts before Census Day on April 1. Census officials say they hope to employ 2,000 in Hidalgo and Starr Counties to ensure an accurate count of all residents in the Valley.
Leaders present at the ribbon cutting included Gabriel Sanchez, regional director of the Census Bureau’s Dallas headquarters, Hidalgo County interim judge Rene Ramirez, Edinburg Mayor Pro-tem Noe Garza, and city manager Ramiro Garza.
“There are a lot Hispanics in the Valley so it’s important for them to stand up and be counted,” Sanchez told the Edinburg Review following the ribbon cutting. “If there are agendas or things that Hispanics want to do as a community, it’s important to get counted and have the numbers behind them to get those changes made.”
Population count determines political representation and state redistricting, which in turn amounts to hundreds of billions in annual aid, according to Sanchez. In the Valley it begins with reaching hard to count areas of the population that often go unreported, impacting the region as a whole, he said.
“Power in America comes through numbers, so in order for things to get done. You have to be counted and represented,” Sanchez said. “We have hard to count areas of the Valley with such things as the colonias, and a lot of poverty and people not knowing what things are. Recent immigrants have fears of interacting with the government, so there is a lot of resistance.”
About 80 percent of all colonias in the nation are located in the Rio Grande Valley, which makes the area one of the hardest to count, according to Census officials. This includes migrants, immigrants, foreign-born citizens, the elderly, children, minorities and families with lower incomes.
Reaching out to the hard to count population will involve a multi-step process, which will include an extra effort to try and educate the agencies who are serving them, Census officials say.
The plan to reach hard to count areas includes focusing on the segments of the population considered “hard to count” by the Census; identifying groups or organizations that are currently serving those in colonias; educating partners to accurately deliver core messages; participating in events throughout the community; and serving as a resource to support the community’s efforts.
A new bilingual form by the Census will contain only 10 questions will help make the process easy for everyone, Sanchez said.
We do obviously have to put resources into harder areas to count. So we do put a lot of resources in here,” he said. “The Census for example has done a bilingual questionnaire, and putting a lot of resources to get the word out in the media…it’s important in the Valley because this is the time Hispanics can finally show themselves to be the majority minority,”